Hearing on 5150 project set for Sept. 13; mix of market-rate, affordable, CHA units planned
by BRIAN NADIG
A public hearing on a controversial mixed-income housing proposal at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy. is scheduled for next week, while city approval of the Jefferson Park Station Area Master Plan is facing additional delays.
The seven-story housing proposal is the last item on the commission’s agenda for its meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Ave. Public testimony will be taken.
The proposal calls 75 apartments, offices for nonprofit groups on the first floor and 40 parking spaces.
Most of the units would be offered to families whose household income is at or below 60 percent of the area’s median income, and a housing preference would be given to veterans, followed by those with disabilities.
In addition, the Chicago Housing Authority would be subsidizing some of the units. Last year Alderman John Arena (45th) signed a pledge to bring 50 new CHA units to the ward as part of an effort to end segregation.
The proposal, which has been in the works for 2 ½ years, has ignited intense debates on social media, and dozens of city workers are facing disciplinary action for their comments. Arena’s office filed complaints against the workers, claiming the comments were racially charged.
Original plans had called for the former industrial building on the 1.54-acre parcel to be retrofitted for a self-storage facility, but those plans were halted after Arena had the property downzoned. After the owner sued the city, negotiations led to a revised plan calling for both a storage warehouse and a housing project on the site.
Full Circle Communities, the project’s housing developer, is expected to apply in January for low-income housing tax credits to help make the project feasible. The project’s funding application was denied in 2017 and 2018.
Meanwhile, the city Department of Planning and Development had informed community groups that the Jefferson Park master plan would likely be submitted to the plan commission this summer, but approval could be months away. The plan includes development guidelines.
“The Jeff Park plan is under review, and public comments are still being accepted. It could go to the plan commission this fall,” a department spokesman said. A draft of the plan is available at accessjeffpark.org.
Ten years ago the department oversaw the formation of a master plan for Jefferson Park, and it was never approved. It recommended about 1,600 new housing units in and around the business district, while the 2018 plan makes no specific zoning recommendations.