CHICAGO — The city is buying a 6-acre plot of land in Pilsen to build at least 280 units of affordable housing, officials announced Monday.
The venture comes as Chicago leaders announced new city investments into affordable housing, bringing the year’s tally up to $1 billion, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other officials said at a Monday news conference.
The Pilsen site at 18th and Peoria streets is the “single largest parcel of vacant developable property” in the neighborhood, according to a city news release.
“We know the importance of bringing more affordable housing to that community,” Lightfoot said at a news conference.
Few details about the project were offered Monday, but officials said the plot, which is vacant and takes up more than 6 acres, will be preserved until it can be turned into at least 280 affordable units “and over $100 million in development activity,” according to a city news release.
Battles over the lot have been waged for years as it became a flashpoint in the gentrification debate.
In 2015, a developer announced plans to build 500 apartments and a park at the site — only to be shot down by then-Ald. Danny Solis. In April 2016, Solis moved to rezone the property from residential to an industrial use, effectively blocking new development on the site.
The developer, Property Markets Group, then said it’d build a smaller, mixed-use project. That never happened, but in 2018, Property Market Group sued the city, alleging it illegally changed the property’s zoning to block the project.
In 2019, Property Markets Group tried to resurrect the project, but it was opposed by Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), who wanted the land turned into affordable housing.
Sigcho-Lopez praised the city acquiring the land Monday.
“Today’s announcement has been more than six years in the making with the people of Pilsen standing shoulder to shoulder, demanding affordable housing, and that collective fight was for the social fabric of an entire community that stretches beyond this intersection,” Sigcho-Lopez said in a news release. “Thanks to our city and to our community, this is how we stop displacement together.”
Pilsen residents have for years fought displacement, calling for protections and more affordable housing as the neighbor has gentrified.
The city has also passed two ordinances this year aimed at combatting displacement in the area.
With one, developers face fines of up to $15,000 if they tear down buildings in Pilsen. And in January, City Council passed an anti-deconversion ordinance aimed at Pilsen and areas along The 606. The measures make it more difficult for developers to convert multi-unit apartment buildings into single-family homes.
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