Fate of 5150 N. Northwest Hwy uncertain following tax-credit decision
by BRIAN NADIG
The fate of a controversial mixed-income housing proposal in Jefferson Park remains uncertain after the Illinois Housing Development Authority last week did not approve low-income housing tax credits for the proposal.
“We are still reviewing our options at this point,” said project developer Joshua Wilmoth of Full Circle Communities.
Last week’s decision by the authority marked the second year in a row that the proposal, which calls for the construction of a 75-unit apartment building at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy., was not approved for the tax credits.
In 2017 the proposal had “a $10 million gap” in its underwriting and this year the proposal “automatically” failed the process because there was no pending zoning change to accommodate the construction at the time Full Circle applied for the tax credits, said Waldon Swenson, the authority’s director of communications.
The zoning application was filed in April, and the City Council Zoning Committee at its May 22 meeting was scheduled to refer the matter to the Chicago Plan Commission, which could hold a hearing on the proposal as early as June.
The authority’s May 18 meeting was disrupted by about 15 protesters who demanded that the authority adjourn the meeting without voting on the 26 low-income housing tax credit requests which its staff did recommend for approval. Members of the development authority spoke over the chants of the protestors and approved the 26 projects.
The Reverend Shawna Bowman, who serves as the pastor of the Friendship Presbyterian Church at 6088 N. Northwest Hwy., testified that the authority’s decision not to approve Full Circle’s application will enable the “forces of white supremacy” to maintain segregation on the Northwest Side and that the authority was opening itself up to a fair housing lawsuit.
Bowman charged that the authority was allowing itself to be manipulated by “political pandering” and “racism,” according to video footage of the meeting. Bowman also said that Full Circle’s application earned a high score.
Swenson said that the score “had no impact on the decision” due to the zoning issue and that “development sponsors can reapply at the next funding round (in 2019).”