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Blackhawks Training Center Expansion, South Side Affordable Housing Approved By Key City Panel

An Uptown housing project, a Fulton Market mixed-used development and a Brighton Park community venue also were approved by the city's Plan Commission.

The Blackhawks practice arena expansion (pictured above) was approved by the City Council Sept. 14, 2023.
Provided/Department of Planning and Development
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CHICAGO — Projects from West Englewood to Albany Park are moving forward after getting key approvals from a city panel.

The Chicago Plan Commission, an arm of the Department of Planning and Development, greenlit 10 items across the city during its meeting Thursday.

The projects now will go before the City Council’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards before a full vote of the City Council.

Learn more about the projects:

Fifth Third Arena Expansion

The Chicago Blackhawks are planning to build two hockey rinks for the Blackhawks and club teams and 219 parking spaces next to their existing training arena at 1801-53 W. Jackson Blvd. on the Near West Side.

The team is buying the land from Rush University Medical Center for $23.5 million, a deal approved by the City Council in April. As part of the deal, the hospital will put $6.3 million from the sale toward development of the Sankofa Wellness Village, a $50 million wellness complex along the Madison and Pulaski corridor in West Garfield Park.

The sale hasn’t yet been finalized, Blackhawks spokesperson Anthony Filomena confirmed.

The plans for the two-floor structure containing the ice rinks and additional surface parking lot require a zoning change, said Brian Hacker with the city’s planning department.

Jamie Faulkner, president of business operations with the Blackhawks, said Thursday this has been a project long in the making that the team believes will enhance the area with community multi-purpose spaces, local hiring, pedestrian safety features and more.

“As Chicago’s hometown hockey team, we truly believe our purpose is to make Chicago proud,” she said. “We want to serve as the home of Midwest hockey to provide opportunities for all youths and adults who want to participate in a sport we absolutely love.”

The project is expected to create 260 jobs and be completed in early 2026, Faulkner said.

Some of the pedestrian improvements accompanying the project include a raised crosswalk on Jackson Boulevard, curb extensions at Jackson Boulevard and Wood Street and a driveways and pedestrian countdown timers at Jackson Boulevard and Damen Avenue, project leaders said.

Credit: Provided/Department of Planning and Development
A rendering for the future Casa Yucatan, which will bring 98 affordable apartments to Pilsen.

South Side Affordable Housing

Two affordable housing projects are also moving forward.

The Resurrection Project is building an eight-story structure with 98 apartments at 2136 S. Ashland Ave., across the street from Benito Juarez Community Academy.

This latest housing complex, Casa Yucatan, will be entirely affordable housing for families earning between 15 and 70 percent of the average median income, leaders previously said. There will be 38 one-bedrooms, 34 two-bedrooms and 26 three-bedrooms, and the apartment sizes will range from 760 to 1,260 square feet.

There will be bike parking and 20 car parking spaces — more than what’s required by the city given that the building will be less than a mile from the 18th Street Pink Line station, project leaders previously said.

Casa Yucatan will also have two multi-purpose rooms open to residents and the general public, and a green space on the roof will be accessible only to residents.

Credit: Provided/Department of Planning and Development
A rendering of the planned adaptive historic reuse of the former Charles Warrington Earle School in West Englewood to bring 50 affordable apartments to the neighborhood.

Developer Gorman & Company want to build 50 affordable apartments in West Englewood in the shuttered Charles Warrington Earle School at 6121 S. Hermitage Ave. The school was one of the 50 former Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed in 2013, said Patrick Brutus with the city’s planning department.

All the apartments would be for folks earning between 15-60 percent of the average median income, project leaders said. There will be 30 one-bedroom apartments and 20 two-bedroom apartments.

The complex would have a community room, fitness space, computer lab, bike storage, social services office and shared laundry room.

This would be an adaptive historic reuse, meaning the exterior of the building would be preserved, Brutus said.

There is one auxiliary building constructed in 1974 that would demolished as part of the project, the developer’s attorney said.

The reuse of the Earle school building into the 50 apartment is the first part of the project, Brutus said. The second part would be to build as many as 25 townhomes on a currently vacant lot next to the school.

The other projects that passed the Plan Commission:

  • Lincoln Park’s Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., is primed to be torn down to make way for a nine-story apartment building with retail. The theater was a staple in Chicago’s theater scene, but never reopened after the pandemic forced it to close in 2020. The building would have a mix of 131 studios, “traditional” one-bedroom apartments, loft-style one-bedrooms, two-bedrooms and three-bedrooms.
  • Sputnik Coffee venue, 4743 S. Talman Ave., in Brighton Park: The team behind a new cafe and roastery for Sputnik Coffee got approval to build out a venue space in the back of the building, which is part of the Brighton Park Industrial Corridor. It would host events including banquets, quinceañeras and birthdays — not rock concerts, the owners said.
  • Tin Roof, 3519 N. Clark St., in Wrigleyville: The owners of this site want to build an internal mezzanine for the upcoming chain live music bar Tin Roof, which has locations in more than a dozen cities. There won’t be any changes to the exterior structure of the building, project leaders said.
  • Vista Properties, 370 N. Morgan St., 400 N. Morgan St. and 401 N. Morgan St., in Fulton Market: The New York-based developer wants to build nearly 1,500 apartments across three different buildings. The project would replace surface lots and one- and two-level industrial buildings.
  • 5035 N. Sheridan Inc., 952 W. Carmen Ave., in Uptown: The developer wants to build an eight-story building with 77 apartments, 39 parking spaces and 3,000 square-feet of ground floor retail. The project site is in the private-use zone of the Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection District, which is why the team needed to submit an application to determine it’s in compliance with the Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance.
  • New school sign, 3729 W. Leland Ave., in Albany Park: The Chicago School Board is asking for city approval for a sign at the co-location of ASPIRA Haugan Middle School and North River Elementary School. There are no other changes proposed for the site. The mounted sign would include the names of the schools and a dynamic message banner on the bottom for school news.
  • Liquor license fix, 2828 N. Clark St., in Lakeview: The owners of the Century Shopping Center are asking for an amendment to resolve a current restriction on liquor licenses. The site’s Landmark Century Cinema’s liquor license had technically been in violation of its zoning, since liquor licenses are supposed to be restricted to restaurants under the current law. This amendment would not create any new bars or restaurants, but would allow the cinema to keep its liquor license.

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