WEST ROGERS PARK — The owner of a six-unit apartment building who wants to add two garden units signed a contract to rent them to low income and disabled tenants in an effort to convince the alderman to grant a zoning change that would allow the project.
But neighbors who showed up to a public meeting held by the Ald. Joe Moore (49th) strongly opposed adding apartments to an already densely populated neighborhood.
"It's not about affordable housing, it's about the density of the neighborhood," said Carrol Symank, who lives near the building at 7255 N. Bell Ave.
"It feels like the cup is full and it's starting to spill," added resident John Sullivan.
Because the property needs a zoning change to build out the basement, the building's owner, Andy Ahitow — a founding partner of Chicago Apartment Finders — signed a covenant that requires the property to be rented at a below-market rate for 10 years.
Ahitow said the rent would be set between $1,000 and $1,200 for the two- and three-bedroom apartments, but tenants would receive help finding other subsidies.
"The supply does not meet the demand — and the gap is growing," said Marty Cerny, the executive manager of Housing Plus LLC, who would help furnish the units and match needy people with the proposed units. "There's just an awful lot of folks that are struggling."
To qualify, renters would have to make less than $35,000 and have a special need, such as autism, mental illness or a mobility impairment, Cerny said.
Yet neighbors weren't sold on the deal, citing the neighborhood's lack of parking.
"Don't feel like you're talking to a cinder-block wall," Moore assured them.
He said he'd make a decision next month about whether to support the zoning change.