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It's Official — Logan Is Getting LGBTQ-Friendly Affordable Housing Complex

By  Mina Bloom and Heather Cherone | December 14, 2016 1:52pm 

 The latest rendering (left) compared to the rendering proposed in May (right).
The latest rendering (left) compared to the rendering proposed in May (right).
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DNAinfo/Mina Bloom; Provided

LOGAN SQUARE — It's official: Logan Square is getting a LGBTQ-friendly affordable housing complex at the site of Congress Pizzeria, 2033 N. Milwaukee Ave.

On Wednesday, the full City Council unanimously approved borrowing $16 million to help fund the complex, which was the last step in the approval process.

Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) said at the meeting that the project is a "good use of TIF" funds. He also recognized longtime Logan Square LGBTQ rights and affordable housing activist Robert Castillo, prompting the council to applaud.

The project will be named after Castillo and his late partner, John Pennycuff, also an LGBTQ rights and affordable housing activist. The plan calls for a seven-story building with 88 affordable and public housing units, 18 parking spaces and 2,400 square feet of retail space.

The housing will be a mix of reasonably priced units restricted to households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income and public housing units. Residents don't have to be gay to eligible to live in one of the units, but the project will be marketed toward the LGTBQ community.

Community partners in the development include the Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., La Casa Norte, Latin United Community Housing Association and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

In all, the project costs about $23 million, including $6 million in equity, $4 million in TIF funds and CHA capital improvement funds.

Once completed, the development will be the second of its kind in Chicago after the Town Hall Apartments in Lakeview.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said the Lakeview development was so popular that it had a 400-person waiting list.

"I can tell you that my experience has been nothing but awesome," Tunney told neighbors at the last community meeting. "It has added a real sense of culture and community and bolstered the diversity of my neighborhood. It has had no effect in a negative way on property values."

When the Lakeview development was built in 2014, Chicago became the third city in the country to build a development specifically geared toward low-income people in the LGBTQ community. Since then, more cities like Washington, D.C. and Seattle have embraced the concept.

Moreno has championed the project since it was first announced in May. At the last meeting, the alderman said the project is "incredibly necessary, forward-thinking, and the right size."

Many neighbors have shared Moreno's enthusiasm, but the Greater Goethe Neighborhood Association's zoning committee expressed concerns over the building's size and exterior elevations.

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