Nonprofit envisions new affordable housing for families at vacant Lower West Side lot

The Resurrection Project is seeking a zoning change to allow a seven-story building with 98 units on Ashland Avenue, across from Benito Juarez Community Academy.

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Guacolda Reyes is the Resurrection Project’s chief real estate development officer. Rents at the Ashland Avenue project would be affordable to those earning 60% of the Chicago-area median, or $62,520 for a family of four.

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The Resurrection Project has proposed affordable housing for a vacant parcel on the Lower West Side, seeking zoning approval for a project that needs to line up financing and subsidies before construction can start.

The nonprofit group wants to build on former industrial land it owns at 2134 S. Ashland Ave. It submitted a zoning application to the City Council last week calling for a building with 100 units, but Guacolda Reyes, the group’s chief real estate development officer, said that after a design tweak, the building is due for 98 units.

She said all would be available at rents that, under city ordinance, are affordable to those earning no more than 60% of the Chicago-area median income, known as AMI. For a family of four, 60% of the current annual AMI amounts to $62,520.

“Gentrification and displacement are being felt throughout the community, for renters and homeowners alike,” Reyes said. She said the units would be a mix of one- to three-bedrooms, reflecting the demand for affordable housing the group has seen from families in its largely Latino service area.

Resurrection is active in Pilsen and Little Village, where Reyes said it owns and manages about 600 rental units along with 142 in Melrose Park.

The zoning application starts a hearing process that could lead to approval by the City Council in a few weeks. But Reyes said that before construction can start, the group needs decisions on financial help from the state and city.

Resurrection intends to apply for low-income housing tax credits through the Illinois Housing Development Authority. Reyes said the project, called Casa Yucatan, will compete with several others and that a decision could come in May.

Discussions are underway with the city’s Housing Department for help in the form of tax-increment financing or interest-free loans, she said. With details unsettled, she declined to estimate the cost of the project.

If help is available to keep the building affordable, construction could start in late 2024 or early 2025, with completion about two years later, Reyes said. The group is working with the Chicago architectural firm DesignBridge.

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The Resurrection Project proposal calls for 98 one- and two-bedroom units for a vacant lot on South Ashland Avenue on the Lower West Side. Construction could start in late 2024 or early 2025 and take two years to complete.

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The seven-story building on about an acre would contain no commercial space but would have room for community programs. The site is across Ashland from Benito Juarez Community Academy.

Plans call for 32 parking spaces in the development, a relatively low allotment that reflects city planners’ desire to reduce dependence on cars where public transit is close by.

Details must go through community review. Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, whose 25th Ward includes the project, said that although he awaits comments from neighbors, he’s in favor of the building’s emphasis on affordable units designed for families.

To counter gentrification, Sigcho-Lopez said he has a goal of 1,000 new affordable units in the ward. Some of that could come on a critical 6-acre parcel the city acquired at 18th and Peoria streets.

Reyes said Resurrection would submit a proposal for the property once the city invites submissions.

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