LOGAN SQUARE — As construction progresses at Emmett Street Apartments, the all-affordable housing development near the Logan Square Blue Line station is getting a new name and artwork in honor of the neighborhood’s Latino community.
Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp. recently received a $15,000 city grant for the project, funds developers will put toward installing a vibrant mural on the residential side of the 100-unit building at 2602-38 N. Emmett St.
Artist Hector Duarte will create the piece through the Chicago Public Art Group. Duarte’s tile mosaic mural will depict Latino people from the neighborhood and a local leader after whom the building will be renamed, Bickerdike CEO Joy Aruguete said.
Bickerdike isn’t revealing who that person is yet, but Aruguete said it’s someone who has made a “significant mark” on the neighborhood. The affordable housing development is on track to be complete by the end of the year. Developers plan to unveil the name — and the mural — at the ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for March, she said.
“Emmett Street [Apartments] is a real statement about the preservation of affordability in Logan Square, where 20,000 Latinos have left because they could not afford Logan Square anymore,” Aruguete said. “The art project is what ties the meaning of the project to the community it’s located in and the people who live there.”
The Logan Square project was one of 11 initiatives awarded a micro-grant through the city’s Equitable Transit-Oriented Development pilot program, which aims to “maximize the benefits that high-quality, affordable and reliable transit provides to our communities,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a news release.
Aruguete said they’re thrilled to have the city’s support, as they didn’t have money left in the budget to fund the art project on their own. The Logan Square project cost about $40.5 million in low-income tax credits and tax-increment financing dollars, among other subsidies.
“Art is a really important contribution to a community, so we try to add art on some level to all of our developments,” Aruguete said.
The mural and name are the finishing touches on a development that has symbolized the gentrification fight in Logan Square.
Since 2015, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), Logan Square Neighborhood Association and other community groups and city officials have pushed for an all-affordable housing building next to the Logan Square Blue Line to slow displacement in the area.
But supporters of the project, which replaced an underused city-owned parking lot, faced fierce opposition.
In March 2020, a group of Logan Square property owners, including prolific landlord Mark Fishman, sued Bickerdike and the city, arguing replacing a parking lot with 100 subsidized apartments would cause them “irreparable injury.” The lawsuit was dismissed in June 2020.
Ultimately, Bickerdike was granted the necessary approvals and construction started in fall 2020.
Once complete, the complex will have 100 affordable apartments, half earmarked for Chicago Housing Authority voucher holders and the other half targeted to people making less than 60 percent of the area median income. The cap is $39,180 per year for an individual and $55,920 per year for a family of four.
Nearly 700 people braved the rain and a tornado warning to apply for a unit this summer, illustrating the high demand for affordable housing in the neighborhood, project proponents have said.
In addition to 100 affordable apartments, the building will include about 4,300 square feet of retail space facing Kedzie Avenue.
Duarte is expected to begin working on the mural later this year or early next year as construction wraps, Aruguete said.
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