New affordable housing could come to North Lawndale

Ogden Commons would be across the street from Mt. Sinai Hospital

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By Igor Studenkov

Contributing Reporter

During a Nov. 15 meeting, members of the Chicago Plan Commission unanimously cleared the way for a development at the south end of North Lawndale — across the street from Mt. Sinai Hospital — that will include affordable housing, retail spaces and medical offices.

The Ogden Commons is a collaboration between Sinai Health System, Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, the Chicago Housing Authority and the Habitat Company, a River North-based real estate company that has a history of working on affordable housing developments. 

According to Jeff Head, Habitat's Vice-President, the goal of the residential part of the project is to replace some of the public housing lost when Ogden Courts public housing development was demolished and to provide affordable housing for residents working at Mt. Sinai Hospital and the neighboring Cinespace studio. 

Head said that many people who work there have to commute long distances and they are hoping to make the trip easier and shorter.

During the Nov. 15 meeting, which was held at Chicago City Hall, Habitat officials touted the development's environmental friendliness. They also said that they were taking part in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 's Section 3 program, which requires entities that receive HUD funds to provide job opportunities to low-income residents. 

The development will comprise three buildings. The one along Ogden Avenue will be a three-story, 50,000-square foot building with retail spaces on the lower floor. The plan also calls for two parking lots to be built behind it, one facing 13th Place and one facing Tallman Avenue. 

The developer has an option to build a three-story residential building over the parking lot facing Tallman Ave. in the future, after the other buildings are built. That part would be contingent on funding availability.   

Head told the Plan Commission that they made sure that ambulances will be able to drop off patients in the front and in the back.  

North of 13th Street would have two residential buildings. The larger, four-story, L-shaped 76,000 square foot building will be located on the west side and it will have a mix of studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.  

A smaller, three-story building will be located on the east side. A parking lot will be built in the courtyard between the two buildings, and a smaller parking lot will be built north of the east building. 

Overall, 80 percent of the residential units will be affordable. Half of those units will be available to Chicago housing Authority clients with housing vouchers. The remaining half will be kept affordable due to tax credits.  

Jay Longo, the principal at Solomon Cordwell Buenz architecture firm, told the council that they are going for an environmentally friendly design.

"We're recycling our waste and diverting it from landfills," he said.

Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), whose ward includes the project site, said that there will be opportunities not only for local-residents, but for area black-owned businesses to benefit from the development. 

"As far as hiring, we do have a local African-American contractor that's part of joint venture," he said.  "It is our goal to not only maximize local employment, but to also involve local contractors."

CONTACT: igorst3@hotmail.com

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