WEST RIDGE — For years, residents of the 50th Ward have been asking for a new library and more affordable housing for seniors.
Thanks to a unique partnership between the Chicago Housing Authority and the Chicago Public Library, they'll be getting both — in the same building.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced three new mixed-income housing developments with co-located libraries that will bring together seniors, veterans, children and adults from all walks of life in a shared space.
"The value proposition of neighborhood libraries is ... we truly bring the entire community together," said Brian Bannon, Chicago Public Library commissioner.
The mixed developments would provide opportunities for learning "beyond books, but from each other and sharing experiences," Emanuel said.
A design competition will be announced shortly, with the goal of attracting the city's top architects in order to create buildings that are "artistic and aesthetically pleasing," the mayor said.
The three developments, as well as a fourth standalone library, are slated for:
• 6800 N. Western Ave. This project will provide housing, as well as replace the existing outdated Northtown branch library, where Friday's announcement was made, 6435 N. California Ave.
Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) said her hope was for the new library to also spur economic development in the surrounding area.
• 4024 N. Elston Ave. In addition to housing, the project will serve as the new permanent home for the Independence branch library, which has been shuttered since last October following a fire.
The immediate future of the branch remains in limbo.
• A new Roosevelt branch library is being planned near Taylor and Aberdeen streets as part of the Roosevelt Square community.
• A previously announced standalone library at Altgeld Gardens.
Co-locating housing with libraries makes communities more resilient and sustainable by creating anchors within neighborhoods, as well as by providing opportunities for lifelong learning, said Eugene Jones, CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority.
The partnership also enables CHA to build affordable housing in areas where it's not plentiful, he said.
The mayor did not field questions following the press announcement. Neither Jones nor Bannon could offer specifics on how the projects will be funded. The number of housing units provided by each development has also yet to be determined.
The two-stage design competition is expected to get underway by the end of this year and will include opportunities for the community to provide input.
It is likely to take two years for the developments to reach completion, officials said.
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