Northwest Hwy project not on IHDA agenda for tax credit approval; official decision expected Friday
by BRIAN NADIG
The proposed 100-unit housing development at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy. is not among the 20 projects which the Illinois Housing Development Authority plans to approve for federal low-income housing tax credits, according to a tentative agenda for the authority’s Sept. 29 meeting.
At this time it is not clear if the projects listed on the agenda could change later this week. It also is not clear what impact the lack of the tax credits for the Northwest Highway proposal would have on its feasibility.
Alderman John Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said Tuesday that the housing authority has not announced a decision on the tax credit application for the Northwest Highway project and that nothing is official until Friday. “We’re in a holding pattern. It is a tentative agenda,” he said, adding that the application process is highly competitive.
Project developer Joshua Wilmoth of Full Circle Communities said that he has not been notified of a decision and that “we are still seeking financing through several sources and are committed to developing high-quality mixed-income housing for and in the Jefferson Park community.”
The state housing authority, which oversees the issuance of the federal tax credits, received about 60 completed applications. Plans call for Full Circle’s project to include about 30 Chicago Housing Authority-sponsored and 50 affordable apartments.
The tax credits provide a dollar-for-dollar federal tax credit for affordable housing investments and are intended to give incentives for the utilization of private equity in the development of housing for low-income families, according to the housing authority. Tax credits are commonly used in these developments.
Arena said in the summer that approval of the zoning for the housing development could be delayed if the tax credits are not awarded this year for the project. Currently the planned development ordinance which governs the site’s zoning calls for a five-story storage warehouse and an unspecified housing development, and the ordinance would have to be amended to include the specifics of Full Circle’s project.
Initial plans called for only a self-storage facility on the 1.54-acre site, but Arena had the property downzoned to stop the plan because he said a warehouse by itself there would do little for the area’s economic vitality. Additional industrial properties on the block also were downzoned.
The warehouse developer later sued the city, and a settlement led to the current development ordinance. In the agreement, Arena and zoning administrator Patricia Scudiero were required to support the ordinance.
A group of area property owners later filed a lawsuit challenging the settlement agreement. The lawsuit claims that the agreement circumvented the zoning process because it required city officials to support the rezoning before the public was notified of the proposal and had a chance to testify at a hearing on the matter.
The lawsuit is pending.
The housing authority’s meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in the board room of its offices at 111 E. Wacker Drive, Suite 1000. An authority spokesman could not be reached for comment.