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New Independence Library Is SO CLOSE To Reality, Just One More Hurdle

By Patty Wetli | September 12, 2017 9:02am
 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 Monday, the Independence Library cleared the second of three bureaucratic hurdles on its way to having its first permanent address in 130 years.

Temporarily shuttered since 2015 when its rental digs suffered smoke damage, the Independence Branch received approval from the city's Zoning Committee for an innovative design that combines a gleaming two-story library with four stories of affordable senior housing above.

"We're thrilled that this excellent library is moving forward," said Owen Brugh, chief of staff for Ald. John Arena (45th).

"This has been a fantastic process to bring this unique building to our community," Brugh said.

The development, set to rise up at 4022 N. Elston Ave. on the site of a former funeral home, next heads to City Council for a vote on Oct. 11. 

The project is a collaboration between the 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.

Pending approval from City Council, the library should be open in December 2018.