Chicago Department of Housing (DOH) Commissioner Marisa Novara joined officials from the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), the Chicago Public Library (CPL), Evergreen Real Estate Group and the Irving Park community today to celebrate the opening of Independence Apartments, an innovative, affordable housing development for seniors, built on a foundation of bricks, mortar and library books.
Located at 4022 N. Elston Ave., the building includes 30 CHA apartments for CHA waiting list renters and 14 units at affordable rents. On the first and second floors of the six-story building, there is the new Chicago Public Library (CPL) Independence Branch that will serve the entire community, from seniors to toddlers and every age in between.
“This will be a wonderful community asset for generations to come,” Commissioner Novara said. “We need to continue to develop and support innovative, creative solutions like these to address not only affordable housing needs but also bolster social connections and strengthen neighborhoods throughout the city.”
Independence Apartments and the Independence Branch Library is one of three co-located, mixed-use CHA/CPL apartment developments built in Chicago.
“We knew from the outset of this project,” said CHA Chief Development Officer Ann McKenzie, “that this innovative co-located development would have an important impact on not just the seniors who will benefit from the new housing but the entire community who uses the library.”
The other buildings in the inventive trio are the Northtown Apartments and Northtown Branch Library at 6800 N. Western Avenue in the West Ridge community, and Taylor Street Apartments and Little Italy Branch Library at 1342 W. Taylor Street.
The concept of mixed-used, hybrid buildings is becoming increasingly popular around the country as municipalities big and small grapple with the lack of affordable housing.
“Independence Apartments is the type of collaboration we need to increase affordable housing citywide while also expanding resources committed to homelessness prevention efforts,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Through comprehensive investment strategies and public/private partnerships, we will not only address homelessness, we will also strengthen our communities and make neighborhoods safer for every family and resident.”
Designed by the award-winning architectural firm John Ronan Architects, the $33.3 million Independence apartment/library development was built through a public-private partnership with the CHA, Evergreen Real Estate Group, and Leopardo Companies. The City of Chicago awarded the development Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credits to support the financing of the project.
“We know how essential both our libraries and affordable housing are to the communities of Chicago,” said Chicago Public Library Commissioner Andrea Telli. “Thanks to the partnership with CHA, and the creativity of John Ronan, we are thrilled to be part of this beautiful, state of the art building that serves as a community anchor for library patrons, housing residents, and the broader community.”
The Independence building has 36 one-bedroom apartments, eight two-bedroom units, a fitness room for residents, balconies in each unit, and an outdoor terrace.
Rebekah Riordan, who has lived in a one-bedroom unit in the development since July, attended today’s ribbon cutting. “I’m so deeply indebted,” she said. “Only by the grace of God I found myself here. What has been done here is incredible. We are all overwhelmed with gratitude.”Commissioner Novara served as keynote two weeks ago at the groundbreaking for a 38-unit public-private partnership for Sarah’s Circle, a non-profit for women experiencing the danger and despair of chronic homelessness.
“Mayor Lightfoot has made it clear that the challenges surrounding homelessness must be addressed through a collaborative process, and with a holistic approach that will increase affordable housing and supportive services citywide,” the Commissioner said, adding, “We have a mayor who understands the centrality of affordable housing to people’s lives, and affordable housing is at the core of her effort to bring economic opportunity and prosperity to every corner of Chicago.”
The Department of Housing ensures Chicago’s housing resources and policies address the needs of residents of all income levels. DOH programs and initiatives are designed to equitably support renters, homebuyers and owners, and the landlords and the developers that provide affordable housing on behalf of community residents. Department initiatives also serve income-eligible homeowners needing furnace, roof and porch repairs, and senior needing accessibility improvements.
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