LITTLE ITALY — Taylor Street will be home to a new Chicago Public Library branch by 2018, officials announced this week.
The Chicago Public Library and Chicago Housing Authority are working together to build a new Roosevelt library branch at 1259 W. Taylor St. — just down the street from the library's current location at 1101 W. Taylor St. The new Roosevelt branch, part of the CHA's ongoing redevelopment of Roosevelt Square, is expected to open in winter 2018.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has been tapped to design the Roosevelt branch neat Taylor and Ada streets, the Mayor's office announced this week. The firm previously designed the award-winning Chinatown Branch Library, The Richard J. Daley Center and the John Hancock Center.
Over the next few months, the architects and project developer will meet with community stakeholders to come up with a final design for the Roosevelt branch to ensure it meets the needs of the neighborhood. CHA, Chicago Public Library and the city's Department of Planning and Development will host design workshops near where the co-located housing and library is planned.
Construction is slated to begin by the end of this year.
The new library will offer programs and spaces for area children and families as well as CHA families, library officials said. Each branch will include an early childhood active learning space and school-aged children will have access to the library’s Teacher in the Library program which offers free one-on-one homework assistance. Teens will have access to classes that inspire exploration, creativity and learning through the YOUmedia program.
The new branch will also offer computer classes and one-on-one coaching to build digital literacy and technology skills for adults and seniors. Staff will be trained to connect job-seekers to best-in-class career services and the library will also offer a book clubs for seniors.
Dennis O'Neill, executive director of Connecting 4 Communities, said the larger library will be a welcomed addition to Taylor Street, and it will help build interest on Little Italy's main corridor.
"But it has to be part of a much more comprehensive development plan for Taylor Street," O'Neill said. "We need development on Taylor Street so we can keep really good restaurants like Three Aces open."
Three Aces, a popular Little Italy haunt, closed in February after seven years in business.
The CHA and Chicago Public Library are also building co-located housing and libraries at 4022 N. Elston in Irving Park and at Western and Pratt avenues in West Ridge.
The winning design firms were selected last week following a design competition that included 32 firms submitting initial proposals in late 2016.
“We are fortunate to have award-winning and internationally recognized firms designing the next great civic projects here in Chicago,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “We are one of the first cities using this type of model between housing and libraries to benefit and beautify our neighborhoods.”
The Roosevelt library branch currently rents space at 1101 W. Taylor in a former bank building that is now owned by the University of Illinois at Chicago. The branch opened in its current location in 1988.