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Atrium Village, Once a Hub of Diversity, Faces Wrecking Ball

By Mina Bloom | February 5, 2016 7:15am
 Demolition is underway at the Atrium Village site.
Demolition is underway at the Atrium Village site.
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DNAinfo/Mina Bloom

NEAR NORTH SIDE — There's a large empty space where the housing complex Atrium Village once stood near Wells and Division, in clear view of passing Brown Line and Purple Line trains. 

A number of the buildings within the complex were demolished this week, marking the beginning of the seven-acre site's redevelopment.

Developer Onni Group is building four high-rise towers with a total of 1,500-units 47,000 square feet of retail space in its place. Construction will be spread out over five phases. The first phase, which is currently underway, includes knocking down four low-rise buildings and one mid-rise building. 

Once complete, studios would likely rent for about $1,500 with one-bedrooms renting for between $1,800-$2,100.

Atrium Village was built in 1978, when leaders from four local local churches — LaSalle Street, Saint Matthew Methodist, Fourth Presbyterian and Holy Family Lutheran — came together to build the complex guided by the belief that people of different ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds should mix.

Notably, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the housing complex in 1987 over its use of a racial-quota system, which was in place to guarantee a diversity of renters. The suit was settled in 1990.

At the southwest corner of Division and Wells streets, the complex is situated in the middle of the Cabrini-Green housing projects, which have since been demolished, and the affluent Gold Coast.

Questions about whether the new developer will stick to the original plan of offering 20 percent affordable housing remain. In early November, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) told DNAinfo Chicago the developer was "trying to get out of it." 

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

Burnett's comments came after the developer said in June that there would be approximately 300 affordable units once the five-phase project was complete. Atrium Village offered a total of 225 affordable units when it was standing.

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