East Garfield Park mixed-use project gets federal tax credits

Garfield Green, slated for 201 S. Kedzie Ave., to include 77 units

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By Igor Studenkov

Contributing Reporter

Garfield Green, a mixed-use, mixed-income project slated for two vacant lots at 201 S. Kedzie Ave., received federal tax credits on March 30, which provided the project with enough funding to move forward.

According to the preliminary plans, the project will include two buildings that will house 77 rental units and 9,000 square feet of retail space. The development will also include 20,000 square feet of public open space on the southeast lot and a 12,000-square-foot public plaza on the northeast side. Out of the 77 apartments, 32 units will be affordable, 31 units will be housing cooperative units and 14 market-rate units.

Although the tax credits give the developers enough financing to build the project, they still need to buy the lots from the city and the city needs to sign off on the design and approve necessary zoning changes.

While the city estimated that the process could take up to 14 months, it is not clear how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the timeline.

Garfield Green was the brainchild of Preservation of Affordable Housing Inc, a Boston-based nonprofit developer that owns several developments throughout Chicago, including Austin Apartments, located at 325 and 345 N. Austin Blvd.

The idea was developed for the 2019 Reinventing Cities competition, which was organized by C40 Cities — a collaboration between major cities throughout the globe that aims to address climate change. The competition looks to find the best environmentally sustainable buildings.

According to the competition website, Garfield Green lives up to those goals in four ways. It will get all of its electricity from the solar panels on the roofs. Rain water will be processed and reused to reduce the amount of water it needs to get from the city sewers. The rooftop gardens on both buildings and the green space on the southeast lot will help cool the area when the weather is hot, while also allowing residents to grow their own fruits and vegetables. And the buildings will be built using modular construction, which means that the buildings will be assembled from pieces that would be fabricated off-site. The Fulton Market District-based Skender will build those pieces at its Little Village factory, located at 3348 S. Pulaski Rd.

The Preservation of Affordable Housing's page on the project also mentions an array of community benefits, including giving priority to local residents for jobs and contract opportunities, partnering with local schools and prioritizing local businesses when it comes to retail tenants. According to the city's press release, one of the retail tenants is "expected to include a clinic to address an increase in asthma rates related to climate change."

The project is estimated to cost $22.3 million, with $500.000 of that set aside to buy the land. According to the city press release, it is expected that Garfield Green would create 150 construction jobs, with at least 31 percent of the jobs going to minorities and at least 9 percent going to women. 

The city has been looking for a way to redevelop the site since 2017. When the competition results were announced on May 1, 2019, the city emphasized that the Preservation of Affordable Housing would still need to come up with financing, and the city would still need to approve the sale, the design and the zoning changes.

At the time, Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) expressed support for the project.

"Garfield Green's extensive mix of open space, retail and affordable housing will act as a community anchor for the West Side," he stated. "I'm thankful to [then] Mayor Emanuel and the C40 team for bringing this international competition and world-class proposal to East Garfield Park, and I look forward to working with our community to bring the project to fruition."

Email: igorst3@hotmail.com

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