The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Atrium Village Demolition Begins, Questions About Affordable Housing Remain

By Mina Bloom | November 3, 2015 5:55am
 The Atrium Village Development will include 1,500 housing units.
The Atrium Village Development will include 1,500 housing units.
View Full Caption
Onni Group

OLD TOWN — Crews have begun tearing down the Atrium Village apartment complex to eventually make way for a 1,500-unit development.

But Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), whose ward includes the complex, is concerned about the forthcoming development because he said Onni Group — the developer behind the project — isn't sticking to the original plan of offering 20 percent affordable housing units.

"They're trying to get out of it. It's not right," Burnett said. "They're trying to wine and dine me. I'm like 'Nah, just do the affordable housing.'"

Burnett said Onni Group now wants to offer the city requirement of 10 percent affordable housing units, rather than the 20 percent that was agreed to by the original owners, which included four local churches. 

 Construction equipment at the Atrium Village site on Friday.
Construction equipment at the Atrium Village site on Friday.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Mina Bloom

Onni Group's development manager Brian Brodeur declined to comment. 

Demolition permits for the low-rise buildings at 1140 N. Wells St. and 1144 N. Wells St. were issued Thursday, according to city records. But a city official said no construction permits have been issued for addresses associated with Atrium Village. 

Burnett said if Onni Group wants to start construction, "they need to work with" him on the affordable housing element of the project.

Developers are required to either include 10 percent affordable housing units in projects or pay a penalty, which many developers choose to do. In January, the City Council passed an ordinance to make it more costly for developers to avoid the affordable-housing requirements, with Burnett as one of the lead sponsors.

The developer's plans

Onni Group wants to build a mixed-income complex with four high rises on the seven-acre site. The Canadian real estate firm bought the property from the original developer in 2014.

The demolition permits represent the first phase of construction, which includes tearing down four low-rise buildings and one mid-rise building at the southwest corner of Division and Wells streets.

The developer is planing to build a 341-foot-tall, 32-story tower with 405 apartments in its place. Studios would likely rent for about $1,500 with one-bedrooms renting for between $1,800-$2,100.

Plans also include a two-acre park in the middle of the complex, which will be privately operated but open to the public, as well as 47,000 square feet of commercial space. The developer was in talks with a grocery store to lease space at the corner of Division and Wells streets.

In June, a representative for the developer told DNAinfo Chicago that Onni Group was planning to offer 20 percent affordable housing, but that it was still working on finalizing the details. 

Currently, the site offers 225 affordable units. Brodeur previously said there will be approximately 300 affordable units once the project is complete.

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: