HUMBOLDT PARK — An affordable housing organization wants to build a four-story building in Humboldt Park named for a legendary group of Puerto Rican veterans.
The Hispanic Housing Development Corp. wants lots at 1045 N. Sacramento Ave. and 1049 N. Francisco Ave. rezoned in order to build 49 affordable housing units for veterans on land attached to a hospital in the neighborhood.
If approved for rezoning, the 65th Infantry Borinqueneers Building, named after a Puerto Rican regiment of the U.S. Army, will be set for construction on the site. The group of war heroes and veterans received "a long overdue" Congressional Gold Medal in June with the support of Gov. Pat Quinn.
On Oct. 26, Quinn announced that the proposed development would receive low income tax credits from the state to "help address challenges that many of today’s veterans face such as disabilities and homelessness."
“Our newly approved veteran developments demonstrate our commitment to creating housing that provides stability and support for our veterans to successfully transition back into civilian life,” Illinois Housing Development Authority executive director Mary R. Kenney said.
But some neighbors are already skeptical of the proposal.
Two homeowners who live within 250 feet of the proposed site said the plan was problematic for several reasons — mostly having to do with a Hispanic Housing Development building already located on their block, the Plaza Taino Apartments, 1111 N. Francisco Ave.
The two men, who said they’ve lived in the area for 40 and 12 years, requested their names be withheld ahead of a meeting with Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) Monday afternoon during the alderman’s ward night.
“After they finished building [Plaza Taino], we saw lots of changes in the neighborhood,” one of the men said. “I’m worried it’ll completely change the area from a nice neighborhood to huge bunkers,” the second man said. “I’m worried it’ll lose its charm.”
While issues of reduced parking topped the men’s list of concerns, the height and scale of the building and safety issues weren’t far behind.
In addition to the 49 units, the residential building would house recreation and library space on the first floor and 42 on-site exterior parking spaces, according to a notice sent to current homeowners and tenants within 250 feet of the lot.
The veterans home would be located next to the Norwegian American Hospital, 1044 N. Francisco Ave., according to the notice.
The zoning change was filed Sept. 30 though it has yet be listed on an upcoming zoning agenda. A lawyer listed on the public notice, Sylvia Michas, could not be reached for comment.
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