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Englewood, Chatham, Auburn Gresham

Mayor, South Side Officials Cut Ribbon On Englewood Affordable Senior Apartments — Thanks To Ald. Carrie Austin

Local leaders say Austin, who was indicted last year, donated critical tax credits to former 16th Ward Ald. JoAnn Thompson to build the $26 million project after years of delays. The building is named for Thompson, who died in 2015.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Ald. Stephanie D. Coleman (16th), Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), developers and family cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the Montclare JoAnn Thompson Senior Residences of Englewood, 6332 S. Green St., on Apr. 13, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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ENGLEWOOD — City officials celebrated the grand opening of a senior housing development in Englewood on Wednesday, more than a decade after two South Side alderpeople made a deal to secure valuable tax credits that made the project possible.

The Montclare “JoAnn Thompson” Senior Residence, 6332 S. Green St., began welcoming residents 62 and older in April 2021. The $26 million, seven-story building boasts 102 one-bedroom units and amenities like a barbershop, fitness center, laundry room and library, officials said. 

The mixed-income housing, built on city-owned land, is part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West initiative, a program aiming to reinvigorate South and West Side neighborhoods with economic and commercial developments. MR Properties, LLC built the property, its eighth affordable housing unit for seniors in Chicago, company officials said. 

The name is in honor of Thompson, the late 16th Ward alderperson who helped spearhead the development before she died in 2015 from heart failure

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Montclare JoAnn Thompson Senior Residences of Englewood, 6332 S. Green St., on Apr. 13, 2022.

Philip Mappa, a developer with MR Properties, LLC, said the senior residence has been over a decade in the making.

The city approved a tax credit for the building in 2011 but pulled support for the project seven years later, Mappa said. Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) stepped in and offered to postpone a project in her Far South Side ward so the Montclare development could apply for city funding again, Mappa said.

Austin said Thompson approached her and said the “attitude of the city at the time” would prevent the residence from being built. She told Thompson to take her tax credits, Austin said. 

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one,” Austin said. “… I’m grateful that God allowed me to have those credits in order to give it to JoAnn, in order for this to be a reality.” 

Without Austin, the building would not exist, Mappa said. 

Austin and her chief of staff were indicted in July on charges of conspiring to take bribes from construction contractors seeking city assistance for a development project. In December, Austin announced she will likely retire after nearly three decades on City Council. 

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) claps at the grand opening of the Montclare JoAnn Thompson Senior Residences of Englewood.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she didn’t know the story about Austin’s contribution to the building, but she wasn’t surprised. Austin has been “selfless in her commitment to community,” Lightfoot said. 

Lightfoot said making sure the city’s “most vulnerable residents” are taken care of has been a top priority during the pandemic. The senior housing was one of many steps in that direction, Lightfoot said.

“People need to know where they’re going to lay their heads at night, and that it’s a safe, secure, decent place to accommodate them,” Lightfoot said. “As a result, our city has been working hard to fully provide our most vulnerable residents with resources to provide stability in a time marked by unpredictability. One of those resources, of course, is affordable housing.” 

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The in-house salon at the Montclare JoAnn Thompson Senior Residences of Englewood.

The first residents moved in last spring. James Brackenridge said the building has been “convenient and nice,” praising the in-building laundry facilities and on-site barbershop. He said he hopes to become closer with his neighbors.

“Hopefully, we can become a community within this building,” Brackenridge said. “Some people keep to themselves, but my desire is that we become a community, look out for each other, and make the best of it.”

Bessie Lyles, a resident since June, said her time in the building has been “fantastic.” Every Monday, a bus takes residents to run errands. On Wednesdays, a vegetable truck delivers fresh produce. 

Last weekend, a steppers group came by and taught residents how to dance. They might have a steppers party soon, she said. 

“I see greatness in the future,” Lyles said. 

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The in-house fitness center.

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