HUMBOLDT PARK — A large affordable housing building is poised to take over a long-vacant lot in Humboldt Park, bringing dozens of low-cost units to the neighborhood.
The City Council on Wednesday approved developer Hispanic Housing Development Corporation’s long-discussed plans for the site at Division Street and California Avenue: a 64-unit affordable housing complex with 2,500 square feet of commercial space, 19 parking spaces and 49 bike parking spaces.
The final approval comes more than a month after the project advanced Chicago Plan Commission despite objections from some commissioners that the development’s architectural design isn’t “iconic enough.”
The site at 1203 N. California Ave. has been vacant for several years. In 2018, Chicago-based developer City Pads and “co-living” startup Common pitched a “co-living” apartment complex geared toward millennials for the property, but that project was scrapped after the deal to buy the property fell through.
Hispanic Housing bought the lot for $1.2 million in February 2019, according to Cook County property records.
The nonprofit developer is planning 40 three-bedroom units, 15 two-bedroom units and nine one-bedroom units, according to a presentation from the Chicago Department of Planning and Development. Apartments will be affordable to households making between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income. A roof terrace with a garden is planned for the second floor.
Hispanic Housing also plans to incorporate a new mural by Antonio Beniquez, the artist who created the “Humboldt” mural currently on the site.
It’s unclear when construction will begin. Hispanic Housing officials did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
The project is moving forward over the concerns of some city commissioners who criticized the building’s design last month. Commissioner Laura Flores said the development “could have gone in any suburban Chicagoland corner,” adding that it “doesn’t honor the rich culture that it’s supposed to showcase.”
Hispanic Housing’s president and CEO Hipolito “Paul” Roldán defended the design, saying his team worked collaboratively with city commissioners. Roldán and Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th), who has championed the project for five years, urged commissioners to approve the project, saying affordable housing is desperately needed in gentrifying Humboldt Park.
“We can spend the whole day [talking] about more beautiful designs to the liking of some of the commissioners,” Maldonado said. “But at the same time, I’m thinking about the thousands of families that are continually displaced every year from my ward” due to gentrification.
“We are under a lot of pressure to move on this so we can meet the financial obligations and make this happen,” Maldonado added.
Maldonado’s handling of the project came under fire last year. A group of neighbors — members of East Humboldt Park Neighborhood Association — said the alderman was ignoring their requests for a public meeting.
Maldonado, however, has said the project has broad community support, including Puerto Rican leaders in the area.
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