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Massive 1,500-Unit Atrium Village Project Breaks Ground

By Mina Bloom | March 5, 2016 8:53am | Updated on March 7, 2016 8:51am
 Community leaders, stakeholders and developers at the Atrium Village project ground-breaking ceremony Friday afternoon.
Community leaders, stakeholders and developers at the Atrium Village project ground-breaking ceremony Friday afternoon.
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DNAinfo/Mina Bloom

NEAR NORTH SIDE — Canadian-based developer Onni Group is aiming to begin construction on the 1,500-unit development at the Atrium Village site in about eight weeks, according to Brian Brodeur, development manager at Onni Group. 

To mark the upcoming construction, the development team, representatives from architecture firm HPA Architecture and community leaders, including Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) and Secretary of State Jesse White, convened for a ground-breaking ceremony where the housing complex's low-rise towers once stood at the Southwest corner of Wells and Division streets Friday afternoon. 

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 a housing complex guided by the belief that people of different ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds should mix.

Burnett said the complex, which is situated between the old Cabrini-Green housing projects and the affluent Gold Coast, was one of the city's first mixed-income buildings at the time it was built.

"I pray and hope that this continues to be holy ground as a development that helps people in our community from all walks of life," Burnett said referring to the history of Atrium Village.

The redevelopment of the site has been in the works for more than three years. 

In 2014, Onni Group bought the seven-acre site from the original developer and local churches with plans to build 1,500 homes, which is five times the amount Atrium Village offered.

Those plans, which include four apartment high rises and 47,000 square feet of commercial space, are now coming to fruition. As part of the first phase, crews have already knocked down low-rise and mid-rise buildings and will construct a 341-foot-tall, 32-story tower with 405 apartments in their place. 

Studios will likely rent for about $1,500 with one-bedrooms renting for between $1,800 and $2,100, Brodeur previously told DNAinfo Chicago.

There have been questions over whether the developer would include 20 percent affordable housing, which is more than the 10 percent the city requires. Burnett previously told DNAinfo Chicago the developer was "trying to get out of it."

But Brodeur said Friday that his team is committed to building 300 affordable housing units. 

"We've always been committed to it, but it was about figuring out the economics to make it work," he said.

One tenant that plans to stay is White, who said he's lived in the complex for the last 25 years.

"I have some vested interest in this complex. It's one of the finest developments they have ever built on the Near North Side," White said at the Friday ceremony. 

"I've been able to enjoy my stay here. I know you are going to do a lot of rehabbing. I want you to rest on the knowledge that I want to stay here no matter what," he said, thanking the developer for "all [he's] done for Chicago."

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