LITTLE VILLAGE — A 148-unit rental building aimed at keeping families in Little Village will replace an old factory near the 26th Street industrial corridor, according to developer Mercy Housing Lakefront.
The development will bring affordable family rental options to a neighborhood that has few, said Linda Brace, vice president of real estate development at Mercy.
“We absolutely believe the demand is there,” Brace said. “This is like new construction. There has been no new construction in Little Village on this scale in years.”
The Storkline Project, named after the old children’s furniture factory that used to occupy the corner of 26th Street and Kostner Avenue, is slated to break ground in spring 2014.
The 206,000-square-foot building would be converted to 148 affordable units with a mix of one- to four-bedroom apartments. Other on-site amenities at the development would include laundry rooms on each floor, bike storage and a computer lab and fitness room.
Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22nd), an early supporter of the development, said the housing would be "a shot in the arm" for that part of the neighborhood.
"It’s a really dynamic, adaptive reuse of an old industrial building that we're looking forward to," he said.
About 40 percent of the rentals would be three- and four-bedroom units, which is where the real demand of the neighborhood lies, according to Lisa Kuklinski, a spokeswoman for Mercy.
“One of the big missing components in the neighborhood is multi-family rental,” she said. “This is just a wonderful opportunity to make a real impact.”
Mike Rodriguez, executive director at Enlace, a neighborhood development and community group, sees the new development as crucial to keeping families in the area.
In the past 10 years, the Little Village population dropped by 11,783 people, according to U.S. Census data.
Rodriguez attributes the decline both to a shift in Illinois immigrants’ port of entry and a younger neighborhood population moving away from Little Village. He thinks the project could stop that.
“The economy is coming back around and we do have a very young community here in Little Village,” Rodriguez said.
In 2005, Enlace surveyed Little Village residents and asked them about their ideal quality of life for the neighborhood.
Now, that plan is being revisited and, after holding multiple community focus groups, Rodriguez said a project like Storkline is ideal for residents’ needs.
“The Mexican community comes to 26th Street to do its shopping,” Rodriguez said. “Now 26th and Kostner can be a vibrant space where families can come and live in the neighborhood.”