The planned four-story building at 4417 N. Kilpatrick Ave., which is adjacent to the Union Pacific railroad tracks and a Jewel grocery store, has drawn fire from nearby homeowners for being too tall and too big for their neighborhood of about 90 single-family homes.
After turning over a few ceremonial clods of dirt in front of a construction digger, Arena said the project would bring new life to the beleaguered shopping district and allow long-time residents of the Far Northwest Side to grow old near their friends and family.
"This is a fantastic project," Arena said as a persistent rain fell on the rocky empty lot.
The complex will also feature a courtyard and a small garden where residents will be able to plant flowers and vegetables, Arena said.
“This is an investment in our community that is driven by the fundamental idea that we value our neighbors, and want to make sure they have access to the resources they need to remain where they want to be," Arena said.
Ninety percent of the units will be set aside for seniors making no more than $32,000, said Nancy Kapp, president of The Renaissance Companies, which is developing the project.
"After three years, today is a very good day," Kapp said after the groundbreaking.
Approximately 20 people have expressed interest in renting the apartments, said Project Development Manager Paul Russo.
The project, which also will include 34 parking spaces as required by city code, is being financed in part by dollar-for-dollar federal tax credits designed to finance affordable housing.
Nearly a year ago, the Chicago Plan Commission changed the zoning for the 1.14-acre site to allow the complex to be built instead of 12 single-family homes as originally planned.
Some members of the Triangle Homeowners Association said the $22 million project will clog the streets of their neighborhood with traffic and take up all of the street parking spaces.
Other opponents said they were concerned that the large building, which is restricted to residents 55 and older, will flood their homes with stormwater and overwhelm the area’s electricity grid.