25 fewer units planned for Northwest Hwy project but still 7 stories





by BRIAN NADIG

The number of apartments in a controversial mixed-income housing proposal for Jefferson Park has been reduced from 100 to 75, but the building would remain seven stories.

Developer Full Circle Communities recently filed an application for low-income housing tax credits with the Illinois Housing Development Authority. Full Circle filed a similar application last year when the project called for a seven-story building with 100 units, but the application was denied.

The building would be constructed on the southern half of a 1.54-acre parcel at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy., where a former Archdiocese of Chicago food processing plant is located. A five-story storage warehouse is planned for the northern half of the site.

Under the revised plan, each floor would be smaller in size compared to last year’s proposal in an effort to help address the community’s density concerns and to reduce construction costs, according to a spokesman for Alderman John Arena (45th).

The $26 million project would include five studio units, 16 one-bedroom units, 16 two-bedroom units and 38 three-bedroom units. The previous plan called for 51 three-bedroom units.

"By reducing the number of three-bedroom units, we can further ensure the development’s minimal impact on our local schools and area traffic," Arena said in a statement.

The seven-story complex would feature entertainment and fitness rooms, a library, a business center, outdoor recreation space and a dog run, Arena said.

The first floor of the elevator-equipped building would include 5,000 square feet of commercial space, and 40 parking spaces are planned. The site qualifies for a reduction in the normal one parking space for each unit requirement due to its proximity to the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Transit Center.

Most of the apartments would be leased at below the market rate.

Plans call for 60 percent of the units to be leased to families earning 60 percent of the Area Median Income and for 20 percent to be offered to those earning 30 percent of the median income. The other apartments would be leased at the market rate.

Some of the units targeting households earning 60 percent of the median income would include rental assistance from the Chicago Housing Authority. "The 30 percent (AMI) units and the rental assistance units offer rents more affordable to seniors, veterans and persons with disabilities on fixed incomes, while the market and 60 percent AMI units offer rents across the spectrum of working families, including those with a disability and veterans," a Full Circle spokesman said in a statement.

"This is fantastic news for Jefferson Park. While we are disappointed to see any sacrifice of affordable housing for lower-income individuals and families, particularly for veterans and people with disabilities who desperately need it, we are pleased that Full Circle Communities is still moving forward," Neighbors for Affordable Housing in Jefferson Park said in a statement.

The organization has called for an influx of affordable housing in Jefferson Park to help end what it has described as the area’s "shameful legacy" of segregation.

"We look forward to learning more about the revised proposal and to working with our neighbors to make Jefferson Park more vibrant, accessible and inclusive," the group said.

Arena has signed a pledge to bring at least 50 new CHA units to the ward by the spring of 2019 to help desegregate the community.

A lawsuit challenging a settlement agreement which led to the housing proposal is pending. The agreement came about after the site’s owner, LSC Development, sued the city after the property was downzoned to stop original plans to build only a self-storage facility there.

A Gladstone Park master plan, which covers the commercial area north of the Kennedy Expressway, calls for new construction to be limited to four stories. A Jefferson Park master plan, which has not been finalized, reportedly will not include height and density recommendations.

"I look forward to continuing the conversation in our community about responsible new development, particularly centered around public transit. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns," Arena said.