Pilsen Plan and Tax Credit Agreements Support Affordable Housing on Chicago’s South and West Sides

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Describing an affordable housing expansion, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday the city had acquired a critical vacant plot in Pilsen and approved federal tax credits to support billion-dollar projects across Chicago. , with emphasis on the south and west sides.

The Pilsen site spans more than six acres on 18th Street and Peoria Street, and the city is buying it for $ 12 million, Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara said. The plot could accommodate at least 280 affordable housing units, Novara added, although details will depend on standard zoning reviews.

Novara said the city has taken action to preserve the neighborhood’s economic diversity. She called the site “the last large vacant and developable site in Pilsen, where we are seeing rapid gentrification”.

Federal housing tax credits for low-income people will support 24 additional developments that will create or retain 2,428 housing units, officials said. The allocation is more than double the number of projects and units supported in 2019, the most recent round of awards, officials said.

In remarks prepared for an event announcing the tax credits, Lightfoot said, “Investing in affordable housing is a critical part of creating a fair and strong city. I am delighted that we have been able to increase our investments in affordable housing to move closer to this vision for our city.

Of the 24 projects, 10 are in or near the 10 communities that Lightfoot has targeted for special attention in its Invest South / West program. Five relate to units reserved for Chicago Housing Authority tenants, such as the work at Lathrop Homes on the north side and the redevelopment of LeClaire Courts on the southwest side.

Officials said 684 of the new units will be family-sized, with two to four bedrooms. Housing programs have been criticized for subsidizing too many small apartments.

All of the projects involve minority-owned businesses as investors or entrepreneurs, officials said. The city decides which projects deserve the tax credits, which amount to 4% or 9% of the costs of construction or real estate acquisition, according to the rules that the federal government has established. In return for the credits, developers agree to offer housing at below market rents, with income limits for qualified tenants.

Novara said his agency emphasized racial equity when reviewing the projects. “We are very committed to the way we do it and not just the number of units,” she said. The ministry review was “really our own control over ourselves to say, despite our best intentions, what are the ways we may unintentionally reinforce the results of racial discrimination and how do we resolve that?” she said.

Chicago Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara.
Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times

Some projects could also benefit from a tourist tax subsidy. The proposals are in various stages of funding and zoning review and could move forward over the next eight to 18 months, officials said.

They are located across the city, including the Near North and Near South, Austin, Englewood, Lincoln Square, Humboldt Park, Uptown, and Woodlawn sides.

The Pilsen site has been controversial for years. The New York-based Property Markets Group has offered to build 434 units on the property in 2019, but a lack of commitment to affordable units has sparked opposition from Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) and residents worried about being driven out by rising rents and property taxes. The project never progressed.

Property Markets Group sued the city earlier, in 2018, over its rezoning to limit the property to industrial use. The movement, defended by former Ald. Danny Solis, was designed to require any developer to negotiate a residential plan with city authorities and local groups.

The case is still pending, but Novara said the owners agreed to the $ 12 million sale. She said the city would sell the land to a developer, possibly after asking for competitive proposals.

Records indicate that interest in the property has shifted to New York-based Raven Capital Management, which Property Markets Group identifies as a co-developer. The companies could not be reached for comment.


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