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City advances plan for Englewood housing

The 56 units, most at subsidized rents, would go up next to another city-approved project for a commercial kitchen and event space.

A rendering of the proposed 56-unit building at Halsted Street and 63rd Parkway.
A rendering of the proposed 56-unit building at Halsted Street and 63rd Parkway.
RDL Architects

City officials are moving forward with approvals of an affordable housing development in Englewood that would arise alongside other improvements near the community’s traditional crossroads of 63rd and Halsted streets.

The housing proposal would cover parcels along Halsted southwest of 61st Street. The vacant land has been city-owned for decades. A Housing Department report said it has environmental challenges because a car repair and painting shop operated there long ago.

Officials have struck a deal with Keith B. Key Enterprises, a developer based in Columbus, Ohio. In a $20.9 million proposal, Key has agreed to build a five-story building containing 56 apartments, all but 16 subsidized to appeal to lower-income renters.

The city is essentially giving the parcels to Key. They’ve been appraised at $80,000 and officials said any sales agreement would absolve the city of costs for environmental work. A Housing Department spokeswoman said the cleanup might cost $200,000.

Chicago’s Community Development Commission endorsed the terms of the property sale May 11. On Thursday, the Chicago Plan Commission is due to review a zoning change to accommodate the project. Both approvals are needed before the matter gets to the City Council.

The building would be a neighbor of another stage of the city’s long-term plans for “Englewood Square,” a reimagining of the old shopping hub. The city’s planning department has approved developers’ plans for a $10.3 million “eco-food” center, converting an old firehouse into a commercial kitchen. A business incubator and event space are promised in a later phase.

The projects seek to capitalize on the 2016 opening of a Whole Foods-anchored shopping plaza and 63rd and Halsted streets. The area also got a boost with the 2007 opening of a new campus for Kennedy-King College.

Key Enterprises is a minority-owned firm that lists projects in Pittsburgh, New Orleans, New York City and Columbus, Ohio. The city has agreed that the project qualifies for low-income housing tax credits, and it also can get a long-term loan of up to $2 million from the Housing Department.

The building would be followed by another, similarly sized apartment structure next door in a later phase, city documents show.

Keith Key, the CEO, could not be reached Tuesday. The project is within the 16th Ward of Ald. Stephanie Coleman, who also could not be reached. However, city documents list her and key neighborhood groups, such as the Greater Englewood Community Development Corp., as backing the project.

Asiaha Butler, CEO of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, praised the development in a letter to the city. “Englewood needs additional high-quality affordable housing, but it also needs to establish market-rate housing to stimulate private-sector investment,” Butler said. “This project will provide both elements and build upon the retail investment made at Englewood Square to strengthen the Halsted Street corridor and help create a positive environment for additional real estate investment.”