WEST RIDGE — Architects selected to lead the design on the new West Ridge library and senior housing building were on hand with city officials to gather resident feedback at a community meeting Monday night.
Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) held a meeting on the project at 6800 N. Western Ave. with representatives of the library, the CHA and design firm Perkins and Will.
Though many applauded the plan for a new library and more housing for seniors, a major concern among residents was how parking would play out at the multi-purpose building, which includes a library topped with 30 one-bedroom apartments for seniors 62 and older.
Andrea Telli of the Chicago Public Library said generally larger library branches offer 1 parking space per 1,000 square feet, which would equal 16 spaces at the new 16,000-square-foot West Ridge branch.
Doug Smith, managing principal with Perkins and Will, said city rules require only 0.3 parking spaces per one-bedroom unit of senior housing.
Altogether, the building is currently slated for about 25-26 parking spaces, including at least two for people with disabilities, though Jones and Silverstein said the final number and parking lot configuration is still up for consideration.
Some residents also worried the rendering released by the city Sunday of the Western and Pratt site was the project's final design, but officials said Monday it was only a concept drawing and its look could change based on community feedback.
Another worry was the project's location in terms of senior housing, in particular with the potential elimination of the Meals on Wheels program, some speakers said.
The nearest grocery story is Cermak Fresh Market on Ridge Avenue, about a 15-minute walk.
The possible loss of the federally-funded food program wasn't the only budget issue discussed — Eugene Jones, CEO of the housing authority, said the project was on the quickest timeline possible because it requires funds and approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is slated to see budget cuts.
"As you guys have heard, HUD is already cutting back, having budget cuts," Jones said. "So we're trying to move this project quicker so that we're not in the throes of a budget cut and we can't finish this development."
Silverstein said she hoped the building would help "spur economic development in that area" of Western Avenue in the long-term.
Overall, most residents said they were in favor of more affordable housing for seniors in the neighborhood, as well as the need for a new library with increased resources.
The current Northtown Branch on California Avenue "just doesn't cut it anymore," Silverstein said, adding she was looking forward to the "wonderful opportunity" for a new building.
Despite its small size, the Northtown branch is in the top 10 of the city's 78 library branches in terms of visitor count and circulation, Telli said.
The waitlist for residents wanting to live in the building's apartments will open in January and the project will be completed by December 2018, Jones said he "promised."
Designers will take the community's feedback to the drawing table and present more plans at an upcoming meeting.
A concept drawing of the new West Ridge library, by Perkins and Will. [Provided]
Doug Smith of Perkins and Will, who will design the building. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]