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New Independence Library Clears First Of Three Bureaucratic Hoops

By  Patty Wetli and Heather Cherone | July 20, 2017 5:12pm 

 John Ronan Architects has been announced as the designer of the new Independence Branch Library.
Independence Library Architect Chosen 3.20.2017
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IRVING PARK — On Thursday, the Chicago Plan Commission approved the city's proposal for a new Independence Library, placing the homeless branch one step closer to having a permanent address.

After operating out of leased locations for more than 130 years — and temporarily shuttered since 2015 when its rental digs suffered smoke damage — the Independence Branch received unanimous support from planning commissioners for an innovative design that combines a gleaming two-story library with four stories of affordable senior housing above.

“This will be one of the most impressive physical library spaces once it is built,” said Ald. John Arena (45th), speaking on behalf of the library in front of the Plan Commission.

Having cleared one bureaucratic hurdle, the building, set to rise up at 4022 N. Elston Ave. on the site of a former funeral home, now needs to pass through the city's zoning committee and then receive the OK from the full City Council.

The project is a collaboration between Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Housing Authority. John Ronan Architects was chosen to design the mixed-use complex, and Evergreen Real Estate Group will oversee the building's development as well as the eventual management of the housing tenants.

The building is being financed through an arrangement with the Chicago Housing Authority and relies on funding from federal sources and tax credits.

Initial conceptual renderings were presented to residents in May. In addition to the 16,000-square-foot library, the building will contain a total of 44 affordable apartments for independent seniors (no assisted living): 36 one-bedroom units and eight two-bedroom apartments.

According to the presentation at the Plan Commission meeting, the library should be open before Christmas 2018.