NORTH LAWNDALE — A police station parking lot on the West Side could soon become home to dozens of affordable apartments.
The Chicago Plan Commission signed off Thursday on the plans for a six-story affordable apartment building at 3201-3423 W. Ogden Ave. The Grace Manor Apartments development would include 65 units of apartments affordable at 60 percent of the area median income, as well as ground-level retail space.
The Ogden Avenue site is an underused parking lot for the nearby 10th District police station. The proposal will be sent to the full City Council for a vote next week.
The apartments will be developed through a partnership between East Lake Management Corporation and Grace Memorial Church, which is based in the K-Town neighborhood of Lawndale.
Developers and city officials said the apartments match up with key priorities in the North Lawndale Quality of Life Plan, a community-driven blueprint to improve housing, education, safety and other issues in the neighborhood, said Brian Hacker, a planner for the city’s development department.
“This aligns nicely with the recommendations of [the Quality of Life Plan] to expand retail amenities, to develop affordable housing and to improve the pedestrian experience along Ogden,” Hacker said.
The apartments were originally planned for a city-owned lot at 13th Street and Kedvale Avenue, near Grace Memorial Church.
But developers set their sights on the underused parking lot because it is close to amenities like the Central Park Pink Line station, the Farm on Ogden and the $31 million Lawndale Redefined development, which could boost the impact of the affordable homes.
Lawndale Redefined combines a community arts and tech center, an affordable housing project and a grocery store with a rooftop bistro on vacant land at 3400 W. Ogden Ave. The project is part of the mayor’s INVEST South/West initiative to guide public and private dollars toward Black and Latino areas that haven’t historically gotten their fair share of investment.
Building the Grace Manor apartments near Lawndale Redefined will “cluster developments that would be transformative and catalytic,” Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th) said.
Grace Manor will be designed by architecture firm JGMA. The building will be designed to emphasize views of the city’s skyline visible along Ogden Avenue, as well as the legacy of Route 66, which spans the country from Chicago to the West Coast.
The apartment complex will have broad windows on each level, a landscaped roof and balconies and terraces to showcase the “unbelievable vistas of the city,” lead architect Juan Moreno said.
“This area is the alpha of Route 66. You think about the energy and nostalgia … it has a lot of beautiful things, and we’re really trying to highlight the positives,” Moreno said.
Plan Commission members praised the project’s design and potential social impact.
“Affordable housing can still be really beautiful. I think it is going to help transform this corridor,” commission Chair Teresa Cordova said.
There is a significant need for affordable and quality housing in Lawndale, Scott said. Many legacy residents have been forced to leave the city in the past 25 years “because there were not affordable places to live,” Scott said.
“For the last 20 years, we’ve also lost a significant amount of property. We’re doing all we can to bring back affordability and bring back people into the ward,” Scott said.
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