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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Logan Square All-Affordable Apartments Score City Council Approval Despite Ald. Lopez’s Push To Stall Project

Ald. Ray Lopez said people called his South Side ward office to speak out against the proposal, but the zoning change was ultimately granted.

Bickerdike's proposal for a 100-unit affordable apartment complex at 2602 N Emmett St.
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CITY HALL — Aldermen dealt another victory on Tuesday to supporters of a proposal to build a 100-unit all-affordable apartment complex in Logan Square, blocking an effort by Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) to stall the project.

Members of the City Council’s Zoning Committee voted to approve a zoning change (O2019-2659) to support plan, which calls for an 86-foot-tall affordable housing complex at 2602-38 N. Emmett St., next to the Logan Square Blue Line station. The zoning change headed to the full City Council for final approval on Wednesday, where it passed without controversy.

The proposal has already been approved by the Chicago Plan Commission and Community Development Commission. It now heads to the council’s committees on housing and finance to approve city-funded tax credits tied to the proposal.

The development is estimated to cost $40.1 million, according to the Chicago Department of Planning and Development. The proposal is also set to draw on about $13 million in financing from the Chicago Housing Authority, as well as low-income housing tax credits issued by the city that would generate more than $10 million in equity.

Credit: Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
Roughly 500 residents showed up to Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa’s meeting on the 100-unit affordable housing complex proposed next to the Logan Square Blue Line station in April.

About half the units in the building would be earmarked for Chicago Housing Authority voucher holders, and the other half would be targeted to people making less than 60 percent of area median income.

The complex would be built on the site of an 1.43-acre city-owned parking lot next to the Logan Square Blue Line station. It would offer 100 units of affordable housing, ground-floor retail, a community room and 20 on-site parking spaces.

The proposal advanced on Tuesday despite a “no” vote from Lopez, who said he wanted the city to forge a “compromise” with some of the site’s neighbors who opposed it. He added that his South Side office had been “inundated” by calls from both supporters and opponents of the proposal.

“The laundry list of people who are not from the area who support this proposal is fine, but what about the people who live adjacent to the site who are opposed?” Lopez asked.

Lopez made a motion to defer the proposal, a direct challenge to the unwritten rule of aldermanic prerogative that gives each alderman the ultimate say over what happens in their own ward. Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), who represents the Emmett Street site, has supported the Bickerdike development since before he was elected in 2015.

None of Lopez’s colleagues supported the South Side alderman’s motion to defer. Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), a frequent defender of aldermanic prerogative, told Lopez it “should be [Ramirez-Rosa’s] decision whether it gets deferred.”

Credit: Provided
Bickerdike’s proposal for a 100-unit affordable apartment complex at 2602 N Emmett St. was approved Thursday.

About a half-dozen people testified in opposition to the development, saying it was too tall and out of character with its surroundings. Josh Hutchison said an April community meeting was “more like a pro-housing rally” where opponents were shouted down, adding that it “did not constitute a democratic process.”

Ramirez-Rosa and other supporters of the plan answered critics by pointing to the multiple tweaks made to the proposal since 2014, when the Metropolitan Planning Council led a “participatory planning process” to find better uses for the parking lot.

As he did during previous meetings, Ramirez-Rosa handed out a packet showing a color-coded map of the proposal’s support and a list of local groups that supported

“There is overwhelming support for this project in the community,” Ramirez-Rosa said. “People want to see it move forward.”

Chicago Department of Housing Comm. Marisa Novara repeated her full-throated support of the development and rebuffed Lopez’s motion to table it.

“We’re talking about creating a space for people who are displaced…we’re not talking about views of a monument, or individual consultation as a means for delay,” Novara told members of the committee. “Just because you do not get your way, that does not mean no one heard you. It means you are disagreed with.”

The commissioner also swatted down Hutchison’s complaint that community meetings were overwhelmed by noisey supporters of the proposals.

“That’s called the power of organized people,” Novara said.

After the meeting, Lopez called Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her housing department hypocritical for supporting Ramirez-Rosa’s efforts to champion the affordable housing proposal in his own ward.

“What we saw today was the administration talking out of both sides of their mouth on aldermanic prerogative,” Lopez told The Daily Line. “You don’t get to have it both ways. And when you’re discussing matters of community, if you’re truly worried about engaging the community and having a more inclusive process, which everyone seems to throw around so freely, then you need to start looking at what the impact zone is for all these amendments.”

Lopez has been a vocal critic of Lightfoot’s campaign to end aldermanic prerogative.

Lopez asked city Zoning Administrator Patrick Murphey during the meeting if surrounding property owners had “recourse” to stall the development’s approval by submitting signatures to the full protest.

Credit: Provided
Bickerdike’s proposal for a 100-unit affordable apartment complex at 2602 N Emmett St. was approved Thursday.

If at least 20 percent of adjacent property owners submit a formal protest to the city clerk at least three days before the council is set to vote, the full council’s threshold for zoning approval would rise to 34 votes instead of 26, officials said. As of Tuesday, officials did not say the higher threshold had been triggered.

Lopez denied on Tuesday that he opposed the Bickerdike development because of his long-running dispute with Ramirez-Rosa, who campaigned against his re-election this year.

“People will always look for whatever is the most fantastical reason for why there’s opposition,” Lopez said.

Aldermen also approved the following zoning changes on Tuesday:

  • A proposal (O2019-6873) by GW Properties to rehab and add new retail and office space to the Hollander building at  2418-28 N. Milwaukee Ave. in the 1st Ward.
  • A proposal (O2019-7962) by Charles Westphal of Stark Holdings to build a four-story, 59-unit residential building with a roof deck in a vacant parking lot at 6632 W. North Ave. in the 29th Ward. It would include 90 interior parking spaces and 46 bike stalls.
  • A proposal (O2019-7942) by The Resurrection Project to build an all-affordable five-story, 37-unit apartment building at 1848 S. Racine Ave. in the 25th Ward. Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25) praised the proposal, saying he “would like to see more projects like this around the city.”
  • A proposal (O2019-7948) by Plan Companies to build a four-story, 20-unit mixed-use building with ground-floor commercial space at 1801 West Grand Ave. in the 27th Ward.

Aldermen deferred a proposal (O2019-4103) by Thomas McCauley to build a six-story mixed-use building with 35 residential units and ground-floor commercial space at 3347 N. Southport Ave. in the 44th Ward.

The committee approved historic landmark status for the Claremont Cottage District (O2019-8454) on the 1000 block of south Claremont Avenue in the 28th Ward, and for the Promontory Apartments (O2019-8453) at 5530 S. Lake Shore Drive in the 5th Ward.

Aldermen also approved the demolition (Or2019-445) of a building at 2132 N. Halsted St. in the Armitage-Halsted Landmark District in the 43rd Ward, and demolition (Or2019-446) of a building at 911 W. Fulton St. in the Fulton Market Landmark District in the 27th Ward.

Additionally, aldermen on Tuesday approved the appointment (A2019-74) of Lynn J. Osmond, the CEO of the Chicago Architecture Center, to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

Credit: Provided
Bickerdike’s proposal for a 100-unit affordable apartment complex at 2602 N Emmett St. was approved Thursday.