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Joint Library/CHA Building On Taylor Gets $7 Million From City Council

By  Ariel Cheung and Heather Cherone | September 8, 2017 6:14am 

 During a community meeting last week, developers unveiled new drafts of renderings for the Roosevelt Library and six stories of CHA mixed-income housing above it.
New Renderings Revealed For Roosevelt Library Mixed-Use Building
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CHICAGO — A request for $7 million in tax money for a new Roosevelt Library anchoring a mixed-income housing development breezed through City Council Wednesday.

But neighbors in Little Italy are hoping an upcoming meeting with aldermen will give them a chance at having a say in the final product, despite the current plans easily passing through City Council.

In addition to the $7 million in tax increment financing, the $36 million library will also rely on money from the Chicago Housing Authority, federal tax credits and other housing funds to become a reality. Almost half the money is expected to come from the CHA as its massive Plan for Transformation approaches the finish line.

The plan — part of the massive Roosevelt Square redevelopment of the former ABLA Homes — has drawn ire from neighbors who feared the large percentage of affordable and low-income housing for this specific building spelled trouble for their close-knit neighborhood.

Almost 600 neighbors signed a petition asking the Plan Commission to delay its vote so their concerns over the height of the building, the breakdown of mixed-income housing units and parking could have some impact on the plans.

But their efforts were in vain, as both the commission and, two weeks later, the City Council, voted in favor of the project.

Next, the Little Italy Chicago Neighborhood Association will host a community meeting Sept. 18 with the CHA and Aldermen Jason Ervin (28th), Danny Solis (25th) and Patrick Daley Thompson (11th).

Board members of the newly formed neighborhood organization promised that they would push officials for complete answers to lingering questions about the project.

"If you give a question, your question will be answered," pledged Mary Beth Howard, the group's secretary. "We are not going to have a meeting that they are running for us."

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, 1431 W. Taylor St. Those planning to attend can send questions ahead of time to chicagolittleitaly@gmail.com.

While the Roosevelt Square redevelopment as a whole will have one-third each of market-rate, affordable and low-income CHA units, the individual breakdown in each building varies.

For the seven-story complex at 1350 W. Taylor St., half will be CHA units, 40 percent will be affordable and the remaining 10 percent will be rented at market rate.

Nearby on West Grenshaw Street, developers are preparing to break ground on 50 new Roosevelt Square townhouses that will all be sold at market rate.

As for the library — which some neighbors want to rename the Little Italy branch — it will be one of three in Chicago to anchor mixed-income CHA housing as part of a new initiative from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

"Chicago is one of the first cities to use a partnership between housing and libraries to benefit and beautify our neighborhoods," Emanuel said. "This model will create spaces everyone can enjoy, and I hope this will be the next great civic projects here in Chicago."

The other mixed-use developments will be in Irving Park and West Ridge.