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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Woodlawn Affordable Apartment Complex Can Slow Gentrification Near Obama Center, Supporters Say As Project Clears Hurdle

Park Station would bring more than 40 affordable apartments to a vacant lot one block away from the Cottage Grove Green Line station.

A rendering of the planned five-story, 56-unit Park Station development at 63rd Street and Maryland Avenue.
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WOODLAWN — A project that would bring more than 40 affordable apartments to a vacant lot one block away from the Cottage Grove Green Line station has gained the support of a key city panel.

The five-story Park Station development at 835-861 E. 63rd St. in Woodlawn passed the Plan Commission Thursday.

Plans call for a five-story building with 56 apartments, 41 of which are affordable; two “live-work” units with retail and residential aspects; and three retail spaces. The $30.8 million project is led by developers DL3 Realty and Michaels Development.

The development now heads to the city’s Committee on Zoning for consideration. If approved by the committee, it would receive a full council vote.

Park Station is the first project subject to the requirements of the Woodlawn Affordable Housing Ordinance, passed last fall after years of community organizing to keep existing residents in the neighborhood.

The ordinance requires at least 30 percent of apartments built on vacant, city-owned lots to be made affordable to “very low-income households.”

This means at least 17 apartments at Park Station must be reserved for residents making less than 50 percent of the area median income. That’s $46,600 annually for a household of four.

The remaining 24 affordable apartments will be accessible to residents making less than 60 percent of the area median income, or $55,920 per year for a four-person household. Fifteen other apartments will be market-rate.

The developers “really put in the work and went back and forth with [the community, Ald. Jeanette Taylor and housing officials] to figure this out,” housing commissioner Marisa Novara said. “We think it’s a fantastic project and another great example of equitable, transit-oriented development.”

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A west-facing view of the Park Station Development, showing the Cottage Grove Green Line station in the background.

Park Station would complement $300 million in planned and completed developments near 63rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, Commissioner Maurice Cox said.

They include Preservation of Affordable Housing’s Woodlawn Station, completed in 2018; the Jewel-Osco opened in 2019; the ongoing Friend Health headquarters project; and the stalled redevelopment of the Washington Park Bank building, among others.

With a location near mass transit, a range of affordability options and on-site services for residents, Park Station can “contribute [to] an anti-gentrification strategy” ahead of the Obama Presidential Center’s planned completion in 2025, Cox said.

“We are trying to locate the appropriate level of density wherever we find ourselves so adjacent to transit,” he said. “This is the way you create a more sustainable and equitable neighborhood framework.”

Sunshine Enterprises plans to provide on-site entrepreneurial training to the community. Local artist Bernard Williams, who created the sculpture a few blocks north at 61st and Cottage Grove, would create bas relief panels next to the building’s windows.

Park Station reflects the “balanced approach” that will be required for Woodlawn’s development going forward, DL3 Realty managing partner Leon Walker said.

Projects must preserve “opportunities for existing residents at the entry level, but also [recognize] the developing character of the neighborhood,” Walker said.

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