CHINATOWN — The creation of the neighborhood’s new library has taken a big step forward with the approval of two architecture firms for the project.
Billed as the “new face for the Chicago Public Library,” the design will be “ultra-modern and uniquely Chinese,” said C.W. Chan, chair of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community.
The new branch is being built to relieve overcrowding at the existing facility at 2353 S. Wentworth Ave., which the city rents from a private landlord.
Renderings of the facility haven't been made public, but it's expected to have a large reading room, meeting spaces, state-of-the-art technology and expanded on-street parking.
Earlier this year, the City Council approved the release of $15 million in Tax Increment Financing funds to buy three parcels of land in Chinatown for the new building. They’re located in the 2000 block of South Archer Avenue and the 2100 block of South Wentworth Avenue.
That measure effectively killed a previous plan that would’ve installed the library atop a new mixed-use building Wentworth and Archer avenues.
Now, it's up to various city agencies, including the Public Building Commission, City Hall and the Chicago Public Library to coalesce and complete the project. Chan said the facility was expected to open by the end of next year.
"Assuming everyone is proceeding at same pace ... . We're hopeful that could be the case," he said.
Next up in the process are a series of community forums, where residents can offer “fine tuning” on the design, Chan said. Those sessions are slated to begin later this fall.
Representatives from the architecture firms could not be reached for comment.