LOGAN SQUARE — A long-planned affordable housing complex marketed toward LGBTQ people has opened in Logan Square — about 18 months later than originally planned.
The John Pennycuff Memorial Apartments at 2033 N. Milwaukee Ave. brings 41 affordable housing units and 47 Chicago Housing Authority project-based units to a hot stretch of Milwaukee Avenue that has attracted several luxury apartment buildings in recent years.
The 88 apartments include a mix of studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units.
“It’s become so expensive to live in the area,” said developer Richard Gonzalez with Metropolitan Housing Development Corp. “We’re so happy we’re able to provide quality housing at a very affordable price.”
The complex is named in honor of Pennycuff, a longtime Logan Square LGBTQ rights and affordable housing activist who died in 2012. Gonzalez said the development company is working with community groups to reach out to LGBTQ people in the area.
Robert Castillo, Pennycuff’s husband and an activist in his own right, has said the project is a “desperately needed resource” in the gentrifying neighborhood.
“One of the quiet secrets is there has been a thriving LGBTQ community in Logan Square,” Castillo said in 2016.
“I like to call Logan Square a quilt. The gay parts of the quilt are in there. They may not stand out, but you know they’re there. A lot of us have quietly integrated into the neighborhood. I think it’s one of the beauties of Logan Square … .”
The seven-story building was supposed to open last winter, but the coronavirus pandemic and a shortage of building material delayed the project, Gonzalez said.
“Everything hit us at the same time,” Gonzalez said.
Construction is finally complete and Gonzalez and his team are accepting apartment applications.
So far, the complex is drawing a lot of interest. About half of the apartments have already been rented just two weeks after opening the application process, Gonzalez said.
In addition to 88 apartments, the Pennycuff building has 2,500 square feet of retail space.
The development is the second building geared toward LGBTQ folks in the city behind the Town Hall Apartments in Lakeview.
The opening comes after several years of planning.
Former 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno announced the Pennycuff project in May 2016, though he said he helped come up with the idea about two years prior to that. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp. scored city approval the following year.
The project was funded with $16 million in city bonds and tax credits, plus $13 million in CHA funds.
Asked how it felt to see the building open after months of delays, Gonzalez said with a laugh, “Like I lost 100 pounds.”
“It was one of my most challenging projects,” he said. He pointed to the change in the mayoral administration before adding, “This was the worst time for development, but we passed that hurdle. We’re doing well and we’re really excited about it.”
For more information about the Pennycuff building, call 773-799-8924.
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