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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

City Picks Short List Of Developers For Woodlawn Site — And Disgraced Ald. Willie Cochran Weighs In

Three teams introduced themselves to neighbors as they aim to redevelop vacant, city-owned land on 63rd Street between Ingleside and Greenwood avenues.

Homes in Woodlawn as seen from above 63rd Street on June 29, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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WOODLAWN — Three teams are finalists to redevelop vacant, city-owned land on 63rd Street, and a former South Side alderperson made an unexpected appearance to give input as a resident.

The redevelopment of 1.65 acres on 63rd Street between Ingleside and Greenwood avenues would mark another step in fulfilling a 2020 ordinance requirement to boost Woodlawn’s affordable housing stock by redeveloping 52 city-owned lots.

Under the ordinance, at least 30 percent of new apartments built on those lots must be made affordable to “very low-income households” making less than 50 percent of the area median income, or about $52,100 annually for a family of four.

Three development teams vying to develop the 63rd Street site introduced themselves to neighbors at a virtual community meeting Tuesday. The teams:

  • Evergreen Imagine, John Ronan Architects and Design Workshop.
  • The Michaels Organization and DL3 Realty, Teeple Architects and Canopy / Architecture + Design.
  • Preservation of Affordable Housing and KMW Communities, Koning Eizenberg Architecture and Harley Ellis Devereaux.

Evergreen Imagine

Evergreen Imagine is a joint venture between the Imagine Group and Evergreen Redevelopment. They’re leading the $43 million Auburn Gresham Apartments project, a two-building, mixed-use complex at 79th and Halsted streets that broke ground in August.

John Ronan Architects has designed numerous projects in Chicago, including the Gary Comer Youth Center and South Shore International College Prep High School, while Design Workshop is an international design studio.

Michaels-DL3

The Michaels Organization and DL3 Realty are angling to lead another project along the 63rd Street corridor after breaking ground on the $30.8 million Park Station Lofts project at 63rd and Maryland last month. It’s the first development subject to the requirements of the Woodlawn Housing Preservation Ordinance.

DL3 is also the company behind the Englewood Square development, which includes the now-closed Whole Foods, as well as the Thrive Exchange Invest South/West project on 79th Street in South Shore.

Canopy is the design firm behind the Oso affordable apartments in Albany Park, while Teeple Architects is a Toronto-based firm. Sunshine Enterprises, which will host its Community Business Academy and other economic development programs at Park Station Lofts, is also a partner on the proposal.

Preservation of Affordable Housing-KMW

Preservation of Affordable Housing, with support from the city and the state, parlayed a $30 million grant in 2011 into $400 million worth of investment in Woodlawn, according to a March study.

KMW Communities is building nine market-rate, single-family homes along Greenwood Avenue north of 63rd Street, as well as 15 townhomes and six condo buildings across Woodlawn. Koning Eizenberg Architecture is a California-based architecture firm, and Harley Ellis Devereaux is based in Michigan with offices in Chicago.

None of the teams provided specific plans or visuals for the 63rd Street site Tuesday. They must submit their design proposals to the city by early January, and city officials plan to announce the winning proposal in early February.

Neighbors at Tuesday’s meeting asked the developers to clarify how much affordable housing would be on-site, consider increasing the project’s density and attract big-box retail options as they draft their proposals, among other concerns.

The developers and the city should consider including shared-ownership housing at the site, said former Ald. Willie Cochran, a Woodlawn resident. He also asked the city to ensure that any tax-increment financing used for the development returns to benefit the community in the long run.

Cochran served as 20th Ward alderperson from 2007 until he vacated the seat in 2019 after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) at a court appearance.

The Michaels-DL3 team was the only one to estimate its split of affordable versus market-rate apartments. It’s likely to develop up to 40 percent of the apartments as market-rate if its proposal is selected, with the rest affordable to residents making 30-80 percent of the area median income, Greg Olson of Michaels Development said.

Density should be prioritized for this project and the others planned for 63rd Street in the coming years, David Zegeye said. He’s a member of the Obama CBA Coalition, which has pressed the city to build the developments on high-density lots to maximize affordable housing.

“We tend to see these buildings more in the 50-80, sometimes upwards of 100 units” range, city planner Justin Petersen said.

The project, near the Cottage Grove Green Line stop, is part of an equitable transit-oriented development zone, Petersen said. That sets a baseline of one parking space per two units, though developers are allowed to adjust the parking down to zero, officials said.

To give feedback on what the development should include, click here.

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