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Could This Huge Project Transform the Near West Side?

By Stephanie Lulay | December 17, 2015 8:51am | Updated on December 17, 2015 11:12am

This is what the massive redevelopment of Roosevelt Square could look like when completed. 

LITTLE ITALY — New renderings outlining the latest plans for the massive Roosevelt Square redevelopment show more market-rate housing, potentially taller buildings and a new plan that would result in less green space on the Near West Side.

Since the late 1990s, efforts aimed at replacing the razed ABLA public housing projects with mixed-income housing have seen a slew of delays. But the new draft plan, considered a framework for future development at the 137-acre site, shows what the Little Italy neighborhood could look like in years to come.

A team of consultants, in partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority, presented the new draft plan at a community meeting Tuesday night at the Fosco Park field house.


Under new plans, more market-rate units would be developed at Roosevelt Square.

About 43 percent of the housing developed on the 35-block Roosevelt Square site — roughly bounded by Cabrini Street on the north, Blue Island Avenue on the east, 15th Street on the south and Ashland or Loomis on the west — would be market-rate housing, according to new plans developed by Chicago firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz. About 32 percent of units developed on site would house CHA low-income and very-low income families and the remaining 25 percent would be affordable housing units.

The CHA's 2000 Plan For Transformation, the Housing Authority's previous plan for the site, proposed 55 percent of units at Roosevelt Square be owned by CHA, 30 percent as affordable housing and 33 percent would be market-rate units.

To date, only 575 of the proposed 1,085 CHA units, 313 of the proposed 846 affordable units and 159 of the proposed 1,466 market-rate units have been developed.

The plan calls for a total of 3,396 total housing units to be developed at Roosevelt Square, nearly tripling the site's population. Before the ABLA Homes were torn down in 1999, all of the site's 3,596 units were part of the CHA's ABLA public housing complex, which provided housing for low and very-low income residents.

To qualify for an "affordable" housing unit, a person must make 80 percent or less of the area's median income if buying a home and 60 percent or less of the area's median income if renting a home, according to state guidelines.

A majority of the new housing developed on site would be priced for market-rate renters and buyers, according to the new Roosevelt Square draft plan. [DNAinfo/Solomon Cordwell Buenz]


New plans would move the existing Addams/Medill Park north. The park, now located at the south end of the site between 14th, Loomis, 15th and Laflin streets, would be relocated between 13th and 14th streets, as shown as "New Addams Park" on the draft map below.

The new park, which has been expanded from previous plans, would include baseball diamonds, soccer and football fields, said Christine Carlyle, director of planning at Solomon Cordwell Buenz.

No changes would be made to Fosco Park and three community gardens would be located in the new development. Arrigo Park also borders the Roosevelt Square site, and Sheridan Park is a couple of blocks away.

What the renderings don't show? A planned park west of Lytle Street on the south side of Taylor Street that was announced in December 2013. The 53,000-square-foot, L-shaped property would likely house residential buildings under the new plan, according to maps shown Tuesday.

In total, 14-16 acres of open space would be located inside the new development area. Today, there are 17 acres of open space located at the site, although the undeveloped grass fields at the site have been used by the neighborhood as parkland while the project has stalled.

Addams/Medill Park would be moved north under the latest Roosevelt Square redevelopment plans. [DNAinfo/Solomon Cordwell Buenz]

Addams/Medill Park would be moved north under the latest Roosevelt Square redevelopment plans. [DNAinfo/Solomon Cordwell Buenz]


A majority of the buildings developed at Roosevelt Square would be 3-4 stories, but buildings located close to major roads and transit would be up to 10 stories, according to the new proposal. Some buildings directly across from Arrigo Park, which is not bordered by any major streets, would be up to six stories.

Shorter buildings would house larger, family-sized units and taller buildings, developed near the site's major corridors, would house 1-2 bedroom units.

Developing taller buildings on the site will allow more room for parks, community centers and retail shops to be located at Roosevelt Square, planners said Tuesday.

This map shows the proposed building heights under the new Roosevelt Square draft plan. [DNAinfo/Solomon Cordwell Buenz]


Now that a framework for redevelopment has been established, the Chicago Housing Authority and the site's private developer, Related Midwest, will work to further define plans and seek financing for the project, said Maya Hodari, a CHA project manager. More community meetings will be scheduled as plans progress, she said, and no plans are set in stone.

An estimated start date for the first phase of the project has not been established, CHA officials said.

Once the CHA and Related Midwest are ready to proceed, the Roosevelt Square project will be developed in phases. First, the area between Roosevelt and Taylor will be developed, according to the plan.

Subsequently, the area north of Taylor Street would be developed, then the area along Roosevelt between Ashland and Loomis. At the end of the project, the remaining area between Ashland and Loomis would be developed.

Developments planned along the Ashland corridor and Blue Island corridor could be developed at any time as dictated by the market, planners said.

The Roosevelt Square redevelopment project will be completed in phases. [DNAinfo/Solomon Cordwell Buenz]

The former ABLA Homes complex included the Jane Addams Homes, Robert Brooks Homes, Loomis Courts and Grace Abbott Homes. The Jane Addams Homes opened in 1938 as the first federal government housing project in Chicago. The last remaining building, located at 1322-24 W. Taylor St., has been vacant since 2002 and will be redeveloped into the National Public Housing Museum.

The museum plans to break ground on the project in 2016 and open in 2017.

Most of the ABLA Homes were demolished in phases between 2002 and 2007. About 330 Brooks Homes units remain at the site, according to the CHA website.

The proposed development of the north side of the Roosevelt Square site includes the National Public Housing Museum. [DNAinfo/Solomon Cordwell Buenz]

Solomon Cordwell Buenz was picked to lead the Roosevelt Square revamp in 2014. Their contract with CHA expires at the end of this year.

In October 2014, SOS Children's Villages Illinois opened 14 homes in Roosevelt Square in the 1200 and 1300 blocks of West Washburne Avenue. The "village for children" can house up to 84 children in foster care.

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