Low-income housing tax credits for 5150 N. Northwest Hwy. project on agenda for approval
by BRIAN NADIG
Low-income housing tax credits are slated for approval for the mixed-income housing development at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy., according to the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s agenda for its meeting on May 17.
The authority rejected tax credit requests for the development in 2017 and 2018, but the project was expected to be in a better position for approval in 2019 after reportedly addressing the financing and zoning issues that the authority raised about the previous applications.
The project’s developer, Full Circle Communities, has said that the tax credits are a key component to the financing of the development, which would include 75 apartments on the second through seventh floors and a church and nonprofit offices on the ground floor. More than 40 parking spaces also are planned.
In March, the Chicago Housing Authority gave preliminary approval to subsidize 40 percent of the building’s units, but final approval is contingent on Full Circle securing financing from additional sources.
The preliminary agreement calls for the CHA to award an estimated $21.5 million in project-based housing vouchers over 30 years, with the stipulation that 20 of the building’s tenants be taken from the CHA wait list and 10 be reserved for homeless veterans. The initial estimated contract would be for $531,300, according to the CHA. The CHA would provide rental assistance for 4 studios, 9 one-bedroom, 7 two-bedroom and 10-three-bedroom units.
A preference for veterans would be given for all of the building’s units, with a second preference given to those with disabilities. A preference for those living in Jefferson Park is not allowed under housing laws, but Full Circle has said that it plans to locally advertise the complex in an effort to encourage area residents to apply for a unit.
In addition to the CHA units, the complex would include a mix of market-rate apartments and affordable units, the latter of which would be reserved for households earning no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income.
Alderman John Arena (45th), who lost his re-election bid to Jim Gardiner, has been a strong supporter of the project, signing a pledge in 2017 to bring more CHA units to the area in an effort to help desegregate the ward. In early 2017, there also was a proposal for a low-income housing building at Wilson and Milwaukee avenues, but the developer dropped the plan.
Initial plans called for only a self-storage facility on the property on Northwest Highway, but in 2016 construction was halted after Arena had the parcel downzoned.
The property owner, LSC Development, then sued the city, leading to a settlement agreement in which Arena agreed to change the underlying zoning of the parcel to B3-5 to allow for a storage warehouse on the parcel’s north end and a residential building on the south end.
Within days of signing the agreement, Arena announced plans for a mixed-income building on the site, and a storm of controversy ensued.
Arena had complaints filed against dozens of city workers, claiming that on social media they posted racially charged comments about the Northwest Highway proposal. Arena’s office kept a spreadsheet with the names of about 80 current and retired government workers, including teachers, who criticized either the project or Arena.
Neighbors for Affordable Housing contended that the project would help end the area’s “shameful legacy” of segregation, while Northwest Side Unite raised $40,000 for a lawsuit challenging the settlement agreement. The lawsuit failed, and last year the City Council amended the site’s planned development ordinance to allow for the mixed-income building.