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Sarah's Circle Expansion Receives Local Zoning Approval

By Josh McGhee | January 11, 2017 2:44pm | Updated on January 11, 2017 8:27pm
 The non-profit agency's proposal received 18 yes-votes and eight no-votes at the 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee meeting.
The non-profit agency's proposal received 18 yes-votes and eight no-votes at the 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee meeting.
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UPTOWN — Sarah's Circle's proposal to add a support space and 50-bed interim housing to the neighborhood received approval from the 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee on Monday night.

The non-profit agency's proposal received 18 yes votes and eight no votes, according to the minutes from the community meeting.

"We had some really solid support from quite a few neighbors we have worked with in the past," said the agency's Executive Director Kathy Ragnar, adding a few block clubs "didn't think the location was right" and would prefer retail.

The agency, which serves women who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless, originally wanted to add a seven-story expansion that would include over 40 units of permanent housing, to the south end of its facility at 4838 N. Sheridan Road, but was unable to gain control of the site, according to the minutes.

Its new proposal required a zoning change for a two-story building at 4654 N. Sheridan Road about two blocks south of its current facility. The zoning change would allow for a mixed-use residential and commercial property with 38 units of affordable housing, support services space and a facility housing its 50-bed interim housing program, the minutes said.

The new location for the proposal "has been empty except for a Thai restaurant" for about a decade. The building was built around the 1920s and though neighbors love the "historical fabric" of the building, its structure is in "very bad shape," said Ragnar.

"It was a lovely building in the '20s, but its not that building anymore," she said.

The designs call for preserving some of that historical fabric by taking terra cotta of the original building and restoring it when the new building is constructed, she said.

The first floor of the building would house supportive services, including a reception area, staff offices, private consultation rooms, a computer lab and kitchen space that would be available to women in the interim housing and permanent housing programs, according to the development plans.

The interim housing program would be located on the second floor. The top four floors would 38 ADA accessible studio apartments with private bathrooms and kitchenettes, according to the development plans.

The building will have security cameras and be staffed at all times, according to development plans.

No-votes on the proposal came from the Uptown Chicago Commission, Clarendon Park Neighbors Association, Graceland Wilson Block Club, Beacon Block Club, Truman Square Neighbors, Lakeside Neighbors Block Club, Gunnison Block Club and Marty Tangora.

Local approval will allow the agency to begin work securing tax credits through the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

The proposal still needs approval from the City's Zoning and Development Committee, but if all goes well the expansion could be built by mid-2019, Ragnar said.

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