By: Mari Bischoff (Loyola senior), Madilyn McCullough (Loyola sophomore), Vanessa Taylor (Loyola sophomore)
Plans for a new housing development to be built across from the Howard Street Red Line station are promising affordable housing for low-income families.
This proposed development is to take place on the corner of Howard and Paulina above commercial retail spaces. The building will be equipped with housing above the federally subsidized housing levels but below the market rate.
This development hopes to help the neighborhood which has struggled with economic instability and violence. A new housing development may prevent crime by populating this area more. Currently, the empty lot is surrounded by other vacant businesses which can be an inducing factor of crime. A more populated street and area hopefully can reduce isolated criminal activity.
49th Ward Alderperson Maria Hadden said the project “makes it ideal for increased density, which can help support our business district. It also includes a large number of family-sized units, for which there is great demand.”
More families in the area will also increase enrollment in schools and can spark neighborhood engagement. She went on to explain the effect it will positively impact families with children, with accessibility to local schools.
“It is a short walk to Gale Community Academy, which has been under-enrolled for several years. The additional units will help attract more families who can enroll their children in our local public school, which relies on a student-based budgeting mode” said Hadden.
“Finally, the workforce housing component will help provide tenants with tools and skills to be successful in the workforce,” she said.
The plans involve the demolition of the current storage unit located there.
“Any time there is demolition or construction, it can cause disruption to the area. To try and mitigate that disruption, the Chicago Building Code has requirements on how to maintain construction sites.” The surrounding area is residential and commercial, thus the noise may disturb some residents.
Alderman Hadden’s office “will also work closely with the developer on communicating with the surrounding area when demolition and construction begins, and maintain an open line of communication for any questions, concerns, or complaints that come up throughout the process.”
The storage building did not meet requirements for dwelling units but Hadden hoped that aspects of the building like its limestone façade can be used on the new building. Maintaining this special element of the building brings a certain charm and historical appreciation to the building.
Hadden explained, “They did say they would look to incorporate the limestone into a new façade. Since the work is being done in two phases, with this building happening in the second phase, we still have plenty of time for more community engagement and input to determine the future of this building and how we can preserve some of the unique architectural features.”
There are two phases in the housing development plan, the first phase includes the Howard side while the second phase is on the Paulina side. The first phase promises to build 6 stories of apartments; 8 studio units, 12 one-bedroom units, 21 two-bedroom units, and 14 three-bedroom units. The second phase includes the demolition of the Werner Storage units which were built in 1921.
In addition to the benefits of the housing units, the downstairs retail space of the building will aid in the enrichment of the community.
Hadden explained, “we will work closely with the developer to identify potential tenants to enhance the business corridor. We have had preliminary discussions about having a build-out for a kitchen in the commercial space since we get a lot of business owners looking to open restaurants.”
This retail space will provide opportunities for potential business owners and give families a sort of amenity to their living experience. The retail space could also help the economic stability of business owners. The developers are working to create an affordable economic addition to this community.
Hadden added, “Finally, the developer did indicate that they were open to exploring new market tax credits, which could help them pass cost savings to potential commercial tenants to keep prices affordable and encourage economic development in the area.”
Citizens in the area seem to have a positive outlook on the new development and its potential. Under Alderwoman’s post on Twitter, Bill Figel commented on the housing outlook saying, “So vital to our futures.” Affordable housing in this community specifically holds the potential for greater life satisfaction and economic growth.
Another Chicagoan, Scott Phillips said, “Excellent news. Always happy to see this thoughtful, responsible approach to development in our ward.”
If all goes according to plan, Rogers Park and its residents can expect these apartments to be available by late 2025.