Independence Library could get new facility


A new Independence Library is planned for the first floor of an affordable senior housing project which could be built in about 2 years at 4024 N. Elston Ave., according to Alderman John Arena (45th).

Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said that the city has a contract to purchase the 24,000-square-foot parcel, where the Hollerbach Funeral Home once operated. The project is part of a partnership between the Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Housing Authority, and similar projects are planned for West Ridge and the Near West Side.

The Independence Library, 3548 W. Irving Park Road, has been closed since a fire damaged it last year. Plans call for the library to reopen in the spring, but a new rental agreement allows the city to terminate the lease once the new library is built, Brugh said.

The library has been open on its existing site since the mid-1990s, and after the fire the city tried unsuccessfully to purchase the property, which includes storefronts next to the library. Last year elected officials and community groups called on the city to acquire land in the Irving Park neighborhood for a larger facility, and a petition drive was conducted in support of the effort.

"You have one of the busiest libraries in the city, and for 100 years it did not have a permanent home," Brugh said. The library always has been in a leased space, he said.

Under the proposal, the new library would have 10,000 to 15,000 square feet of space, with 50 to 60 apartments on the upper floors, but the details have not been completed, Brugh said. The city plans to hold a design contest for each of three projects that would be constructed under the interagency partnership, he said.