PILSEN — Residents can get an updated look at what the city has in mind for Pilsen’s largest vacant lot after months of community meetings and surveys.
The Chicago Plan Commission heard an informational presentation on a framework draft that will guide the construction and development of the 6-acre site at 18th and Peoria streets in Pilsen. The framework was developed based on what they’ve heard from neighbors over the past few months, officials said.
The proposal includes a mix of rental- and ownership-opportunities, as well as of high- and mid-rise buildings, three- and -six flats, and townhomes on the site. In total, there would be a maximum of 432 housing units, up from a previously proposed 351.
The vast majority of the homes and apartments would be affordable, restricted to people meeting certain income requirements and include two or more bedrooms, according to the framework.
The draft includes recommendations from city officials who completed a housing needs assessment in the area. The assessment found Pilsen lacks 1,269 rental apartments for low-income residents, showing the gap this project will fill, said James Harris, a lead planning coordinator with the city’s planning department.
Anyone who wants to provide feedback on the draft can email email@example.com through April 17, before the commission finalizes a framework. Once it’s adopted, future work on the site would have to reflect the goals agreed upon in the framework, officials said.
It’s unclear when officials with the city’s Department of Planning and Development will have a finalized plan for the commission to adopt.
The framework draft, which neighbors can review in depth here, shows a breakdown of four phases to build out the site.
Phase 1 would include residential high-rises along 18th Street, with commercial space on the ground floor.
Two residential mid-rises would be built behind those, on either side of Peoria Street, in Phase 2.
Townhomes and three- and six-flats for sale would be Phase 3.
Phase 4 would be additional residential high-rises at the northernmost end of the site along 16th Street.
There are also small parks, green spaces and roof top amenities throughout the site included in the proposal.
In previous meetings, neighbors have advocated for as much as density as possible without sacrificing features like green space.
The area’s Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) attended Thursday presentation and thanked city officials for the collaborative work with community members to shape the framework.
“This is really promising,” he said. “This was a long time coming. The alternative was 500 luxury units where community would have had very little say-so.”
The city’s $12 million purchase of the lot at 18th and Peoria streets received City Council backing in February 2022. The sale was a part of a lawsuit settlement between developer Property Markets Group and the city.
Officials and developers long have battled over the future of the lot amid 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 residents and activists pushed back. Sigcho-Lopez, who was a Pilsen Alliance organizer and opposed the plan before being elected, said the lot should have more affordable housing than was being offered. Solis demanded at least 21 percent affordable housing at the site.
Property Markets Group tried to resurrect the project in 2019, but Sigcho-Lopez blocked it.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: