By Susan S. Stevens
Related Midwest has begun construction on the next three buildings in Roosevelt Square, with upgrades planned for existing buildings as well as construction of apartments and a museum in the one remaining building from the former ABLA Homes.
It has been 23 years since the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) unveiled its Plan for Transformation, when it started tearing down the ABLA dwellings of about 3,500 to 5,000 families to pave the way for a mixed income community of 2,000 homes. Developers call what is going on now Phase 3B, of the six phases planned.
At present, unofficial dog parks almost equal redeveloped land, as dog-walkers frequent the many blocks of vacant land on the old ABLA site. Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) said that land use will change, as the developer and the City are planning official dog parks, as well as regular parks and other green spaces, in the renewed community.
Numerous factors contributed to this redevelopment taking so long, Ervin said, adding that moving forward remains complicated by the multiple groups involved—the Federal government, City government, CHA, community members of the surrounding area, and financial institutions investing money in the development—and the economy’s ups and downs.
“In terms of timing, CHA is dependent on a number of limited resources, such as low-income tax credits and tax increment financing,” a CHA spokesperson said. “CHA remains hopeful about obtaining future resources, and we welcome the continued partnership with the City of Chicago, Related Midwest, and others that are helping CHA build strong communities.”
The three new buildings under construction, in addition to the National Public Housing Museum building, will contain both traditional rental and mixed income apartments. The Fresh Stop Produce and Deli grocery store and the Slice Shop pizzeria will occupy the sidewalk level at Taylor Street and Racine Avenue, 1002 S. Racine Ave., below apartments in a six-story building.
Two other six-story, midrise buildings will go up at 1257 and 1357 W. Roosevelt Rd. The museum sits at 1322 W. Taylor St.
Related Midwest will build the Taylor-Racine building on a vacant lot that provided free parking to scores of vehicles for years. Decades ago, it held the Eisenberg Boys and Girls Club. Once the new building is up, 34 parking places will remain for shoppers and residents.
“These innovative developments represent a $172 million investment in this community,” a CHA spokesman said. “Construction will begin in mid-March, and the work is expected to be complete in summer 2024.”
After the current work, for-sale townhouses will follow, with Related Midwest building first along Grenshaw Street, then on the south side of Arrigo Park.
At a Jan. 23 groundbreaking, two speakers vowed the townhouses will come in the not too distant future.
Curt Bailey, Related Midwest president, told the gathering, “While we are doing this, we will be building those three-bedroom townhomes for sale as well.”
Tracey Scott, CHA CEO, said, “We are working with Related Midwest on planning the next phases of Roosevelt, which will include a focus on homeownership.”
“This has to be the next portion,” Ervin said in a later interview with Gazette Chicago. “I am hoping we can start this process this year,” he said, noting townhouse construction might begin by the third quarter. Ervin would like to see townhouses because some current Roosevelt Square renters have expressed interest in buying single-family homes in the community.
Concerning any objections to constructing townhouses that will be privately owned on what is now CHA land, Ervin said the development “was never intended to bring back 5,000 CHA units to the area. It was always supposed to be mixed income.”
“The next phase of for-sale units will be townhomes along Grenshaw,” a Related Midwest spokeswoman said. “We have architectural plans ready for permit and are currently working with CHA to release the land for construction.”
Museum and apartments
The National Public Housing Museum organization for 17 years has been planning to locate a museum in the only building saved from the Jane Addams Homes, the original public housing in the area. The not-for-profit group drew up plans and raised money for the museum.
It plans 15 mixed-income apartments to share the three-story building with the museum. The organization broke ground last fall on what will be the first museum of its kind in the nation. The building will have 37 parking slots.
The museum announced Feb. 17 that hip-hop artist DJ Spinderella will be curator of the museum’s music room, a space “celebrating the vital role public housing has played in the development of the American musical landscape,” according to a spokesperson.
For years, Roosevelt Square residents have complained about lacking a grocery store within walking distance. Negotiations with several chains fell through because the planned site is small. During the winter, talks with one store, Fresh Stop, succeeded. Fresh Stop already has an existing store is at 930 W. Belmont Ave. and will add a new store in the Taylor-Racine building.
Next door to the new Fresh Stop, the Slice Shop will offer a variety of pizzas and snacks. Another Slice Shop operates at 928 W. Belmont.
Above the stores, apartments, both rental and mixed-income, will offer housing ranging from studios to three-bedroom units. The building will have a fitness center, indoor entertainment space, amenity terrace, resident parking, tenant storage, and indoor bike storage.
Two planned buildings on Roosevelt are almost twins, with a mixed size of apartments and rental fees based on income. Each will have a fitness center, ground floor outdoor amenity space, dog run, package receiving room, resident parking, tenant storage, and indoor bike storage. Each building also will have 41 parking places.
Altogether, Phase 3B includes three new midrise buildings with a mix of studios and one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments totaling 92 market-rate apartments, 80 apartments for families with CHA subsidies, and 50 affordable/workforce apartments.
As part of this phase, developers are rehabbing 184 existing affordable apartments that they built during Phase 1 two decades ago. They will upgrade the rehabilitated apartments with new flooring, modern cabinets, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, and new energy-efficient systems.
The general contractor on the project is a group of 100% minority-led firms, including Bowa Construction, a Black-owned firm headed by Nosa Ehimwenman, which was integral to the AIA award-winning Street Apartments and Little Italy Branch Library and is currently building a luxury highrise at 900 W. Randolph St.
Other Related Midwest projects
In the West Loop, Related Midwest is constructing a 43-story, 300-unit residential building at 164 N. Peoria St. The Row of Fulton Market will offer convertible as well as one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments and ground-level retail space; it will set aside 20% of the units as affordable. Related Midwest also plans six penthouses, and some units will have private terraces. Other amenities include a lap pool with lounge seating, three outdoor grilling kitchens with dedicated dining and seating areas, 24-hour concierge and door attendant on duty, and parking for 146 cars.
Nearby, Related Midwest proposes a 41-story, one million-square-foot office development at 725 W. Randolph St. that would feature a rooftop pool, 17,000-square-foot restaurant, and flagship Equinox Fitness Club and Spa. The company most recently collaborated on the 300-unit Landmark West Loop at 1035 W. Van Buren St., which opened in 2017.
For more information about Fresh Stop, visit www.freshstopchicago.com or phone (773) 661-9579. For more about the Slice Shop, www.slicelife.com or (773) 633-4906. For more about the National Public Housing Museum, log on to www.nphm.org or call (773) 245-1621. For more on Related Midwest, visit www.relatedmidwest.com. For more about the Row of Fulton Market, log on to www.rowfultonmarket.com or call (312) 337-8890. For more from Alderman Ervin, call (773) 633-0900 or log on to www.aldermanervin.com/jason. For more on the CHA, log on to www.thecha.org or call (312) 742-8500.