LOGAN SQUARE — A plan to build a LGBTQ-friendly, affordable housing complex in Logan Square scored the nearly unanimous blessing of the Chicago Plan Commission Thursday, which means construction will begin in earnest soon.
"This is an exciting day,” 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno said at the hearing for the complex in his ward. The only reason approval wasn't unanimous was because Moreno, a champion of the project since it first was announced in May, recused himself from the vote.
“We had a very open and transparent process," Moreno added.
The complex will be named in honor of longtime Logan Square LGBTQ rights and affordable housing activists John Pennycuff and Robert Castillo. Pennycuff died in 2012, but is survived by Castillo, who is active in the community.
Plans calls for a seven-story building at the site of Congress Pizzeria, 2033 N. Milwaukee Ave., offering 88 affordable-housing apartments, 18 parking spaces and 2,400 square feet of retail space.
The housing will be a mix of apartments restricted to households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income and public housing units — all marketed toward the LGBTQ community. Of the 88 apartments, 28 will be studios, 48 will be one-bedrooms and 12 will be two-bedrooms.
The apartments will be geared toward singles and couples who either work or have roots in the neighborhood, according to the development team.
Since the beginning, Moreno has been unequivocal in his support of the project, which he said he helped devise.
"I think it's incredibly necessary, forward-thinking, and it's the right size," Moreno said at a previous community meeting. "I don't expect 100 percent support for it. Nothing gets 100 percent support. But I didn't get into this game to be in the backseat. I want to lead."
The project will be the second of its kind in the city after the Town Hall Apartments in Lakeview.
Throughout the community hearing process, most neighbors have cheered the project, saying it will bring much-needed affordable housing to a neighborhood that continues to see rent hikes.
On Friday, the proposal was approved by the city's zoning committee without discussion. The City Council is expected to give final approval at Wednesday's meeting.