ALBANY PARK — A developer is hoping to build 60 affordable apartments in Albany Park using city tax credits designed to assist in the financing of affordable projects.
The apartments are already desperately needed in the neighborhood, advocates say, and the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent mass job losses will only exacerbate the problem.
Celadon Holdings wants to build the 60-unit apartment building called Metropolitan Apartments in the empty lot at 3557 W. Lawrence Ave.
“The neighborhood is pretty dense with limited opportunities to add to the needed supply of affordable housing with new construction,” said Scott Henry, principal at Celadon. “When this site became available we jumped at the opportunity.”
Celadon still needs to finish the tax credits application process and get approval from neighbors and Ald. Rossana Rodriguez (33rd) before it can move forward.
The Metropolitan Apartments development is just one of 11 projects the city selected from a pool of 43 applications to receive the highly competitive tax credits last month.
Celedon is partnering on the project with the Renters Organizing Ourselves to Stay (ROOTS) initiative created by Communities United, a nonprofit focusing on affordable and quality housing. It’s one of two Albany Park projects ROOTS is working on.
“We lost a lot of natural occurring affordable two- to four-flats after the last recession and foreclosure crisis. Developers bought them up and converted them into single family homes,” said Diane Limas, Communities United’s board president.
Limas worries something similar may happen once the current coronavirus pandemic is over.
“To avoid that we’re looking at how to both preserve housing, which is cheaper to do, and also build new affordable units,” Limas said.
During her campaign and since being elected, Ald. Rodriguez has been a proponent of keeping neighborhoods affordable and working to prevent people from being priced out due to rising rents and gentrification.
“We have lost thousands of members of our community, particularly Latinos, because of high rents and property taxes going up,” Rodriguez said. “This has hurt the working class and people of color who want to stay in their homes in Albany Park.”
The new Albany Park building could be as tall as seven stories, but Henry said that isn’t final and is looking at ways to minimize the height.
Renderings for the project were not yet available.
Henry declined to share the total cost project, how many tax credits the project had applied for or what the rents would be as the project had not yet gone out to bid and he’s still waiting for final approval on the tax credits application from the city.
The new building would also need a zoning change to move forward. To help get the change, Henry spoke with community groups during a Thursday Zoom meeting organized by Ald. Rodriguez.
“The developer will hopefully factor in their recommendations before presenting more flushed out plans to the broader community for more feedback,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez plans to post the developer’s plans to her office’s website and have neighbors weigh in remotely using email and online surveys in lieu of public meetings if the statewide stay home order is still in effect as the zoning process moves forward.
While the project will still need community approval to move forward, Rodriguez said the business shutdowns and layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic are only exacerbating the neighborhood’s need for affordable housing.
“I’m worried so many people getting laid off won’t be able to stay in their apartment. We are in a desperate situation right now,” she said. “Any additional affordable housing we can have in our community for the long term is definitely welcome and necessary.”
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