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Affordable Housing, Performing Arts Center Coming To Old Aronson Furniture Site In Back Of The Yards

The new development will include 80 affordable and market-rate apartments, officials said.

The former Aronson Furniture building at 4630 S. Ashland Ave. in Back of the Yards.
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BACK OF THE YARDS — A new affordable housing complex with at least 80 apartments and a performing arts center is being planned in Back of the Yards.

Just ahead of the election this week, outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) and Chicago Housing Authority officials announced that the CHA plans to buy the shuttered Aronson Furniture building at 4630 S. Ashland Ave. Crews plan to demolish the furniture shop building, which closed a decade ago, to make way for the new development.

The multi-million-dollar development will include affordable and market-rate one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, city officials said, and a performing arts center and retail space. The project is expected to break ground in early 2020, CHA spokeswoman Molly Sullivan said.

Some of the apartments will be set aside for families on the CHA’s waitlist, officials said.

The project is still in its early planning stages, and details on the size and cost of the new building are still being worked out, Lopez said.

City officials declined to answer questions about the project’s total cost, but said it will in part be funded by the Federal Housing Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Credit: City of Chicago/Twitter
City officials announce plans for a new affordable housing development in Back of the Yards Monday.

Lopez, who was re-elected to his 15th Ward seat Tuesday, called the project a “historic development” that will ensure housing affordability remains “solid” in the neighborhood for years to come. The development will follow in the tradition of Mary McDowell’s University of Chicago Settlement House, which provided housing for immigrants in Back of the Yards more than a century ago, he said.

Even in its early stages, Lopez said the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council is working on a labor agreement to ensure laborers working on the development are hired from the community.

“We are working to ensure…the surrounding community has a first shot at these jobs and access to apartments,” he said.

The proposed project — part affordable housing, part community space in the form of the arts center — breaks the mold of what affordable housing can look like, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

 “The new development will help to ensure housing remains affordable for anyone who wants to live, work and raise a family in the historic Back of the Yards community,” Emanuel said in a statement.

CHA CEO Eugene E. Jones Jr. said the new project will not only serve its tenants, but the surrounding community, too.

The CHA and Chicago Public Library recently opened three projects in Little Italy, Irving Park and West Ridge that combine new library branches with affordable housing above.

Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
The new Little Italy library is located at 1336 W. Taylor St.

The Back of the Yards complex will be built as part of a cooperative effort between the city’s Department of Planning and Development, the Chicago Housing Authority, the Federal Housing Administration and the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, Lopez said.

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