PILSEN — The city is one vote away from buying Pilsen’s largest vacant lot and potentially converting the neighborhood’s largest swath of developable land into nearly 300 affordable apartments.
The City Council’s Committee of Housing and Real Estate unanimously approved the city’s move to buy the 6-acre lot at 18th and Peoria streets from developer Property Markets Group. The city is set to buy the land for $12 million as part of a settlement with the developer.
The full City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal at its Feb. 23 meeting.
Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), whose ward includes the site, said the development has “overwhelming community support” to bring at least 280 units of affordable housing to the neighborhood to combat displacement and gentrification.
Sigcho-Lopez previously said he wants the site to be 100 percent affordable housing and include green spaces and potential business spots.
“We have a huge shortage of affordable housing, especially when it comes to family-sized units,” Sigcho-Lopez said Tuesday. “This is an unprecedented and historic victory for the community.”
Officials and developers long have battled over the future of the lot amid ongoing debates over gentrification in the neighborhood.
Property Markets Group sued the city in 2018 after then-Ald. Danny Solis rezoned the property from residential to industrial use, effectively blocking development on the site. The developer had proposed building 500 apartments and a park there, but activists From the outset, the project was met with resistance from residents and activists, including Sigcho-Lopez, who said the lot should have more affordable housing than was being offered. Solis demanded at least 21 percent affordable housing at the site.
In 2019, Property Markets Group tried to resurrect the project, but Sigcho-Lopez opposed it. Before Sigcho-Lopez was elected alderman, as an activist working with Pilsen Alliance, he fought the developer’s plans for the massive site for years.
Once the city acquires the site, it will undergo remediation much of the year before any work can be done, Mike Parella, of the Department of Planning and Development, said Tuesday.
Officials haven’t chosen a new developer for the project, but Sigcho-Lopez said there will be public meetings to gather residents’ input.
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