Work starts on $36.1 million Roosevelt Square Library despite community pushback

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roosevelt library
Rendering of the new Roosevelt Library project

The SOMdesigned Roosevelt Square library branch in Chicago has received its first construction permit, despite community opposition to the six stories of housing that will also be built on the site, The Architects Newspaper (AN) reports.

Chicago issued a $1 million “foundation only” permit for the project at 1342 W. Taylor St on Jan. 3. The overall project value is estimated at $36.1 million.

The initiative is a public-private collaboration between the Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Public Libraries and developer Related Midwest and is the third and final of these combined library-housing developments to be permitted, following projects at the West Ridge and Irving Park branches.

Roosevelt Square will include a 17,000-sq. ft., single-story library topped by six stories of residential units. The tower section will contain 37 public housing units, 29 affordable units, and seven market rate apartments.

The site’s development has faced pushback from community organizations that have taken issue with the project’s size and impact on neighborhood tax revenue. Most recently, the Little Italy Chicago Neighborhood Association had sought to file a restraining order to head off the library’s construction, but those efforts seem to have fallen through, AN says.

SOM and Related assert that they’ve taken community feedback into consideration and have reconfigured the building accordingly. “The street-level library portion facing Taylor Street was redesigned to include cascading setbacks that would make the building appear shorter, while the residential section has been shunted to the back of the lot,” AN reports. “A community garden has been planned for the lot behind the library, as well as a parking lot with 26 spots.”

W.E. O’Neil Construction Co. is the general contractor. Sub trades include: ElectricalSharlen Electric Company; plumber/plumbingWarren F. Thomas; refrigeration and ventilationState Mechanical Services.