Affordable housing plan in Lincoln Square cleared for passage

The project will offer lower-cost housing in a wealthy area while preserving some public parking for nearby businesses.

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4715_N._Western.jpg

A rendering of the building that would replace a city-owned parking lot at 4715 N. Western Ave. in Lincoln Square.

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Alderpersons on Tuesday cleared for final approval a housing development in Lincoln Square that for three years has drawn heated debate over affordable housing and parking for neighborhood businesses.

The City Council’s zoning committee endorsed the plan for 63 units at 4715 N. Western Ave., property that’s now a city-owned parking lot near a CTA Brown Line station. All apartments would be offered at affordable rents as defined by city ordinance. Advocates hope nonprofit developer The Community Builders will provide lower-cost housing in a popular area where prices have skyrocketed.

The six-story building also will include 36 parking spaces, half for tenants and half for public use. The idea is to replace some public parking in the city lot, a key demand of area businesses.

The final design at Western and Leland avenues was a compromise that pleased most neighborhood associations and businesses, said Ald. Matt Martin, whose 47th Ward includes the property. He said it was a challenge “to thread the needle” of demands from the neighborhoods and city agencies but that the outcome has pleased most people.

Will Woodley, a regional vice president for The Community Builders, said a third of the units will be reserved for renters earning up to 30% of the area’s median income, or AMI. The other units would be offered with income limits of 60% and 80% of the AMI.

Woodley said that even at the 80% level, the units will be priced much lower than market-rate rents in Lincoln Square.

The developer will get the city-owned lot of $1 and qualify for low-income housing tax credits. This year, the developer had to redo plans after city officials said a version with more parking would render the investment ineligible for tax credits.

The Chicago Plan Commission endorsed the project Nov. 17.

Residents said the project drew broad support, even though some blocks saw flyers attacking the influx of lower-cost housing. Lincoln Square resident John Morrison, in written testimony to the Chicago Plan Commission, called the flyers part of “a hateful disinformation campaign” that relied on racist and antisemitic arguments.

“These voices do not represent the Lincoln Square we know and love. This vile rhetoric served to highlight just how necessary this project truly is and fueled many of us to advocate for this project independently,” Morrison wrote.

The Committee on Zoning, Land Use and Building Standards approved the project unanimously, setting it up for a final vote at the Dec. 14 City Council meeting.

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