7-story affordable housing project planned for Jeff Park at Milwaukee & Northwest Hwy
by BRIAN NADIG
A seven-story, 100-unit affordable housing complex that would be targeted for veterans and working families is planned for a former food processing plant site at Northwest Highway and Milwaukee Avenue.
Alderman John Arena (45th) said that the project would help fill a large void in the ward, where there are 85 units that meet the city’s affordable housing criteria. “In some wards they have 3,000,” Arena said. “We’re not providing affordable housing for the people who are living here.”
Police officers, teachers and nurses are the type of applicants the project is expected to attract, Arena said. “These are my constituents,” he said.
The housing complex would be constructed on the southern half of a 1.54-acre parcel at 5150 N. Northwest Highway, and a five-story self-storage facility would be built on the northern half.
Initial plans had called for the food plant to be converted into a storage warehouse, but Arena had the site downzoned to stop the project due to concerns that a warehouse by itself on the site would do little for the economic vitality of the area. Under the current plan the existing structures on the site would be demolished.
A community meeting on the project will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, in the community room at the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District Station, 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave. A planned development ordinance is being sought to allow the project.
Plans call for 60 of the units to be offered at below-market rates based on the applicant’s household income and for 20 units to be subsidized by the Chicago Housing Authority for low-income families. An additional 20 units would be offered at market rates.
Rents for the studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units would range from $300 to $1,900, with higher rents paid by those tenants with the highest household incomes.
The developer, Full Circle Communities, has set a goal of leasing up to 50 percent of the units to veterans. On-site services for veterans would be offered, and the units would be marketed heavily toward veterans.
Affordable housing is intended for those earning 60 percent of a region’s median income, which is $74,800 for a family of four in the Chicago metropolitan area. A sliding income scale would be used to determine rents, and tenants typically would be paying no more than one third of their income for rent.
Those eligible for the CHA-subsidized rents would come from a waiting list of 130,000 families which are looking for housing, and this program is separate from the housing authority’s Section 8 voucher program, whose participants can apply the vouchers toward their rent at buildings throughout the city, Arena said. “Some of these people have been waiting 10 years,” he said. “These are not people without jobs.”
About a year ago Alderman Gilbert Villegas (36th) rejected plans for an affordable housing proposal by Full Circle Communities on a site near Addison Street and Central Avenue. Villegas made his decision after many residents at a community meeting expressed concern that the project would attract crime to the area.
Arena said that he hopes community dialogue on the proposal would be based on fact and not prejudice. He said that he expects a significant portion of the building’s tenants would be existing Northwest Side residents whose families could benefit from some form of housing assistance.
The housing portion of the development would include 62 parking spaces. Because of the site’s proximity to the Jefferson Park transit center, the zoning code waives the requirement of at least one parking space for each residential unit.
Arena said that the front of the building would include a “retail presence” that may be better suited for a nonprofit agency than a retail business given that the site is somewhat isolated from the heart of the Jefferson Park retail corridor, which is primarily south of the Kennedy Expressway. The development site is north of the expressway and adjacent to a railroad embankment.
The storage facility would include a conference room which businesses that store their products and supplies in the warehouse could use. LSC Development is the developer of the warehouse.
An adjacent manufacturing site on Northwest Highway has been for sale, but the occupant plans to use the facility for at least another year or two, Arena said.
The Full Circle proposal is one of a series of developments aimed at increasing density near the transit center. Arena is moving ahead with a 15-story, mixed-use project at Ainslie Street and Lipps Avenue next to the transit center, while several projects reportedly are in the works for properties on Milwaukee Avenue across from the CTA terminal.