Two affordable housing complexes win top neighborhood development awards

SHARE Two affordable housing complexes win top neighborhood development awards

Casa Querétaro offers affordable housing to residents in Pilsen. | Provided photo

When he first started designing Casa Querétaro in 2012, Gabriel Ignacio Dziekiewicz, said he ran into challenges along the way.

Funding sources ran dry. Because the building was on a brownfield site in Plisen, three feet of contaminated soil had to be removed.

“It’s a unique building on a unique site,” said Dziekiewicz, president and principal of design at DesignBridge.

“We wanted to do things that were site specific to create housing for housing’s sake.”

Over six years since Dziekiewicz started the project, and two years since it was completed, the affordable housing development, which is owned and operated by the Resurrection Project, will receive a first place award for architectural excellence in community by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

That award and others will be handed out at the 24th annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards on Thursday.

For Dziekiewicz, the award makes completing the 45-unit project “a little sweeter.”

“We were brought in to do a housing project, but we wanted to have a bigger impact,” Dziekiewicz said. “To be recognized for that is important to us.”

Also receiving a top award at the neighborhood development are the developers of Lake Village East. The Polk Bros. Foundation’s will be awarding them for affordable rental housing preservation.

The Hyde Park/Kenwood site, built in the 1970s, was redeveloped between August 2015 to February 2017.

Though redevelopments can often push people out of their affordable housing, nearly all residents of the 218-unit building were able to stay thanks to a restructuring of subsidies that also ensures the building’s long term affordability.

“The affordable housing gap has only been increasing,” said Bob Kaplan, principal at Ansonia Properties & Ansonia Property Management, LLC, which worked on the redevelopment.

“This was important to us because we want to help people continue to have access to it.”

Meghan Harte, executive director of Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago, which produces the annual award ceremony, said its important to honor those trying to improve Chicago’s neighborhoods.

“Affordable housing is a challenge in Chicago,” she said. “It’s important to our organizations and communities, like Pilsen and Logan Square, to create stable housing and preserve the affordable options we have to help people stay in areas they’ve been in forever.”

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