Irving park alderman approved plan for affordable apartments for native americans
Irving Park – Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez (33) has signed a nonprofit developer proposal to build 100 percent affordable apartments in Irving Park designed specifically for Indigenous people.
Affordable housing development company Full Circle Communities partnered with Native American-led Visionary Ventures to build a seven-story building with 45 apartments at 2907 W. Irving Park Road designed specifically for Native residents.
The site is an empty lot that has been lowered by the former Ald. Deb Mell in 2018, so the developer needs to change zoning from Alderman going forward.
Rodriguez Sanchez announced her support for the zoning change Friday in a letter to neighbors, some of whom expressed concerns about the building’s height and lack of parking.
In her letter, Rodriguez-Sanchez said Full Circle Communities and Visionary Ventures are “respected affordable housing developers” and have spent two years working with city officials to develop a plan that “responds to the growing housing pressures facing Chicago’s indigenous community, Irving Park and Rose 33.”
“My vision for improving the ward is to build communities of care and this 100 percent affordable housing development with family-sized units is a manifestation of that idea. I have no doubt it will make our community better and stronger,” said Rodriguez-Sanchez.
The proposed residence is among 24 affordable projects that received $1 billion in city support in 2021 through highly competitive low-income housing tax credits.
The developers had previously resisted neighbors’ questions about shrinking the building, saying that the design had been negotiated with the city’s Department of Planning, Development and Housing and that the proposed density was what would be financially feasible.
Since then, four neighborhood groups—the California Park Neighborhood Association, Horner Park Neighbors, The Residents of Irving Park, and the Irving Park East Neighborhood Association—have circulated a petition to try to block the current proposal from moving forward.
Neighborhood groups argue that the proposed building is too tall, there are not enough parking spaces and they worry it will set a precedent for other developments if approved.
In response to these neighborhood groups, Rodriguez-Sanchez said earlier this week that a design change at this point could jeopardize the highly competitive tax credits needed for construction. She repeated that point in her message on Friday.
“It is very difficult to build any amount of affordable housing in this country. It is almost financially impossible to build small affordable housing developments, especially in areas where land values tend to be high,” said Rodriguez Sanchez.
“Saying no to something like this may reduce the likelihood of similar investments – such as affordable housing – occurring on our ward in the future.”
Alderman said her office has received “overwhelming” positive feedback on the developer’s current plan from neighbors who have called her office.
“More than 100 people attended a public meeting regarding the proposal, and more than 375 people took the time to comment on the proposal,” Rodriguez Sanchez said in her letter. “Of the more than 375 people who took the time to fill out our feedback form, either online or in person in my office, more than 73 percent expressed support for this suggestion.”
Changing zoning is the latest step in the development process. If the plan is fully approved by the City Council, it would be the latest major development in the Northwest Side ward aimed at addressing rising rents and eliminating the conversion of two apartments into single-family homes.
The 45 new apartments in the plan aren’t enough to replace the total number of housing the area has taken up over the past 10 years, Rodriguez-Sanchez said, but the developer’s plan is a “bold response” to the ward’s growing lack of affordability. .
“The demolitions and reversals have had cascading effects associated with the displacement we have seen. A decade ago, Chicago Public Schools projected that Cleveland Elementary School would need to expand its capacity to accommodate more students by 2023,” Rodriguez-Sanchez said in her letter. “Instead, Cleveland has seen declining enrollment.”
The principal of Cleveland Elementary School and the local school board expressed support for the plan during a virtual meeting of the community earlier this month.
If the city council fully approves the development, Rodriguez-Sanchez said in the letter, it could lead to further improvements for pedestrians and cyclists in the neighborhood.
“(Total) 45 units of bike parking makes increased bike use in the area very likely. This will create increased demand for infrastructure improvements such as low-stress green roads that connect to Horner Park, California Park, and the Riverfront Trail and benefit all residents in the area,” he said. Rodriguez Sanchez.
During Alderoman’s first term, she sponsored the construction of the Maria Elena Sifuentes Apartments, 3557 W. Lawrence Ave. , which is also built on thanks to very competitive tax breaks.
“(Residents) of the 33rd Ward elected me to address the significant challenges facing our communities head-on. I am very proud that I was able to bring the Maria Elena Sifuentes affordable housing project to the Albany Park area in my first term,” said Rodriguez Sanchez. Irving Park will be the first recipient of affordable housing in my second term.”
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