More than 500 new residences planned for the Cabrini area

New housing in this area is welcome, but it continues to be a civic embarrassment and an injustice to former CHA residents that it’s taken so long for it to happen.

SHARE More than 500 new residences planned for the Cabrini area

A rendering of new housing and retail planned for a site within the former Cabrini Green public housing development.

Chicago Housing Authority

Almost a quarter century has passed since Chicago Housing Authority’s “Plan for Transformation,” a Mayor Richard M. Daley-era initiative to replace 17,000 units of public housing with mixed-income communities, was announced.

Some redevelopment has happened, but bad planning and fiscal shortages hampered the plan, launched in 2000. The result has been yearslong construction backlogs that have left far too many people stuck on waiting lists for new CHA housing — and neighborhoods stuck with vacant land rather than transformed neighborhoods.

So this Editorial Board is cautiously optimistic about the CHA filing a zoning application last week to build a 560-unit development on 7 long-vacant acres at Larrabee Street and Clybourn Avenue, where a chunk of the Cabrini-Green public housing development once stood.

It’s good to see the housing come on line, but it continues to be a civic embarrassment and an injustice to CHA residents that it’s taken so long for it to happen.

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The new Cabrini development project is expected to be built in two phases, starting with 250 rental units. The zoning application for the entire project seeks permission to go as high as 742 residences, if financing and demand call for it.

A CHA spokesperson said 100 of the first-phase residences would be built for public housing residents, while the remaining 150 apartments would be evenly split between affordable and market-rate rentals.

The development would be built under a joint venture that includes Hunt Development Group from El Paso, Texas, and Philadelphia’s Pennrose.

If the project wins the federal low-income housing tax credits that are being sought this year, construction would start in 2025, the CHA said.

The development would join two projects that are expected to begin construction in 2024 within the rebounding former Cabrini area under the Plan for Transformation: the 99-unit fifth phase of Parkside of Old Town, and a 78-unit effort at Oak and Larrabee streets.

The CHA says those projects would bring 65 public housing residences, and 43 affordable units to the neighborhood.

We do have questions about the Larrabee Street and Clybourn Avenue development, however. It’s good to see retail spaces and housing density built along a CTA bus route such as Clybourn Avenue, but the prospective renderings make the development seem clumsily shoehorned onto the site.

Here’s hoping architectural refinements bring a more graceful design and more ground-level open space.

With so much at stake — and so much time passed — the CHA owes it to the city and public housing residents to get it right.

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