NEAR NORTH SIDE — The Chicago Housing Authority advanced plans for two of three housing developments in the former Cabrini Green neighborhood this week.
The two proposals are for a 560-unit development at the corner of Larrabee Street and Clybourn Avenue and a 99-unit apartment project known as Parkside Phase 5. The Chicago Housing Authority filed a zoning application for the first project Wednesday, a day after its board approved the Parkside development.
The third project, which will bring 78 apartments to the corner of Oak and Larrabee streets, is expected to start construction next year, said Karen Vaughan, a spokesperson for the Chicago Housing Authority.
Tracey Scott, CEO of the housing authority, celebrated the board’s vote to approve Parkside Phase 5 — along with a few other projects on the West, Southwest and North sides — for helping build “strong communities where families who need housing assistance can achieve economic power.”
But housing advocates have criticized Parkside Phase 5 and the other developments, saying officials were not transparent about the process. They want a meeting with Mayor Brandon Johnson to discuss their concerns.
The Larrabee And Clybourn Development
The Clybourn Avenue and Larrabee Street building includes 560 units, but the project could expand if demand and financing allow, Vaughan said.
The project, which spans a 6.9-acre site, would be done in stages and include a mix of duplexes and apartment buildings, with the tallest one reaching 10 stories, according to the application.
The first phase will include 100 public housing, 75 affordable and 75 market-rate units with retail planned for the base of the building, Vaughan said. Construction could start in 2025 if the agency receives Low Income Housing Tax Credits this year, according to Vaughan and the application.
The development is a joint venture between Hunt Development Group from El Paso, Texas, and Pennrose from Philadelphia, according to the application.
The housing authority selected Hunt and Pennrose as developers in 2017, Crain’s Chicago Business reported. But delays, including a lack of funding, prevented them from advancing the project.
City Council approved a proposal in 2021 that extended the life of a Near North Side tax-increment financing district, freeing up about $600 million in tax revenue for projects in the area, including the housing authority’s plans.
The Parkside Phase 5 Project
The Parkside Phase 5 project will bring 99 apartments across four buildings in the former Cabrini Green area, according to the housing authority. Three of the buildings will be three-story walk-up buildings, while the fourth one will be an eight-story mid-rise.
- 1101-1129 N. Cambridge Ave.
- 1100-1128 N. Cleveland Ave.
- 500-520 W. Hobbie St.
- 558-576 W. Elm St.
Thirty units will be for CHA residents, while 28 will be affordable and 34 offered at market rate, according to the housing authority. Thirty-five apartments are either three- or four-bedroom units.
Amenities will include on-site social services for its residents, as well as a community space, fitness center and playground, officials said.
The project is part of the larger Parkside of Old Town development, a mixed-income community that started in 2005, according to the housing authority.
“To date in the Cabrini Green area, [Chicago Housing Authority] and our partners have created over 3,500 units on 25 mixed-income sites (including 1,226 [Chicago Housing Authority] and 867 affordable),” Vaughan said. “Substantial new public infrastructure has been built in the area (including new police, library, park and school facilities) in addition to a new community center located on Division Street.”
Efforts to replace the torn-down Cabrini-Green housing remains years behind schedule and has a shortfall of hundreds of public housing units.
The development of Parkside is a joint venture between Holsten Real Estate Development Corporation and the Cabrini Green Local Advisory Council Development Corporation, according to the housing authority.
Parkside Phase 5 is among a trio of developments approved by the Chicago Housing Authority board on Wednesday.
The other developments approved by the board include a 650-unit mixed-income community development in Garfield Ridge near Midway Airport and a 75-apartment development in Lawndale.
The agency said these projects will add 357 new rental units around the city, including 153 apartments for families on the CHA’s waitlists, 134 affordable apartments and 70 market-rate apartments.
But housing activists remain concerned that more public land will be used for purposes other than housing, potentially before the new housing materializes. For example, land at the former LeClaire Courts site was previously sold to a charter school operator, and the redevelopment will also include a medical center.
The issue has continued to emerge in recent years as the agency increasingly pushes land deals they say will generate revenue to create new housing. The agency has sold and swapped land to benefit a Chicago Fire soccer facility, a privately owned South Side tennis center, a new Near South Side high school, North Side Target stores and other private development.
“In the mayor’s transition team report he says he wants to return public housing to the 1999 Faircloth limits which means CHA can add an additional 19,000 units, but we can’t get there if we keep giving away the land,” Rod Wilson, executive director of the Lugenia Burns Hope Center, previously told Block Club. “This isn’t about any individual development or the merits of those developments…. Our communities need resources like schools and hospitals, but just because public housing land has been sitting vacant doesn’t mean we need to use that land for it.”
Wilson told Block Club that the coalition has met with representatives from the mayor’s office but have yet to meet with Johnson.
In addition to a moratorium on public housing land sales, Wilson and other housing advocates are still demanding the removal of CHA CEO Tracey Scott, laying the erosion of public housing inventory at her feet.
Several community organizations — including Lugenia Burns — filed a suit against the CHA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in June, alleging the agencies operated “without a transparent process or adherence to civil rights laws” when they allowed the Chicago Fire pro soccer team to take over Near West Side land long earmarked for housing.
The coalition has also been fighting a plan to build a new $150 million community high school on public housing land on the Near South Side. A Board of Education vote to approve funding the project was originally set for June but was pulled pending further review, said sources close to the issue.
Johnson’s transition team report recommends “a freeze on transfer of CHA land for non-housing uses,” with possible exceptions based on community needs, like first-floor retail.
Ronnie Reese, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said that City Hall officials have “met with many community groups” around their mutual goal of increasing public housing stock.
“We will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders in creating equitable and affordable housing for all,” Reese said.
Block Club’s Jamie Nesbitt Golden contributed to this report.
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