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Goodbye parking lot, hello affordable housing: Logan TOD construction starts next month

Rendering of the all-affordable TOD.

It's getting real folks. The all-affordable transit-oriented development that will help stem housing displacement in Logan Square is about to become a thing.

The city-owned Emmett Street parking lot, located next to the Logan Square 'L' station, is closing at the end of the month to make way for construction on the 100-unit building. The $40.1 million, seven-story development will help low-income and working-class residents stay in the community and provide excellent transit access to job and educational opportunities. It will be located a mere 400 feet from an entrance to the train stop.

The project faced fierce Not In My Back Yard opposition from affluent homeowners on Emmett, who argued that the building design was too tall, didn't include enough open space, and would create a parking and traffic nightmare, although they may have actually been more concerned about their property values. (They shouldn't have been.) The opposition group Logan Square Neighbors for Responsible Development, whose members and supporters included landlords, real estate agents, architects, and a star anti-union libertarian lawyer, even filed a nuisance lawsuit to try to kill the project.

IMG_6308
Logan Square Neighbors for Responsible Development members and supporters libertarian lawyer Jacob Huebert, real estate agent Sarah Maxwell, and trial attorney Allison Huebert testified at the final community meeting on the all-affordable TOD last April. Maxwell was named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. Photo: John Greenfield
Logan Square Neighbors for Responsible Development members and supporters libertarian lawyer Jacob Huebert, real estate agent Sarah Maxwell, and trial attorney Allison Huebert testified at the final community meeting on the all-affordable TOD last April. Maxwell was named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. Photo: John Greenfield

On June 16, Cook County Circuit judge Neil H. Cohen dismissed the suit. "The provision of affordable housing for low and moderate income residents of the city is a legitimate government interest," he stated in his decision. "Increasing access to public transportation and encouraging public transportation use for people of all incomes is also a legitimate governmental interest. Building 100 affordable housing units near the CTA’s Logan Square Blue Line station is rationally related to these legitimate governmental interests."

Yesterday local alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa announced the upcoming parking lot closure in his newsletter, adding that nonprofit developer Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation and its general contractor Linn-Mathes Inc. plan to start excavation and foundation construction as soon as September 10, 2020. The work is not expected to be completed before January 2022.

Sign at the Emmett lot announcing its impending closure. Photo:
Sign at the Emmett lot announcing its impending closure. Photo: Carlos Ramirez-Rosa via Twitter
Sign at the Emmett lot announcing its impending closure. Photo: Carlos Ramirez-Rosa via Twitter

"This is exciting news for our community," Ramirez-Rosa wrote. "35th Ward, Logan Square, and Northwest Side neighbors marched, organized, and won this needed affordable housing to address displacement of working class families from our neighborhoods."

Rosa's office has posted an FAQ list. Here are a few of the questions:

    • "What are alternative parking or transportation options?" The ward notes that metered and non-metered on-street parking is plentiful in the neighborhood, noting that "a 2020 study by the Metropolitan Planning Council found that “parking is much less of an issue in the area surrounding the development than in most places in Chicago.”
    • "Will construction impact the Logan Square Blue Line stop?" Nope, the station will remain open during the duration of the project. Separately, the entrance to the stop will be rehabbed as part of an upcoming streetscape project from Logan Boulevard to Belmont Avenue.
    • "Will this project conflict with the planned Milwaukee Avenue streetscape project?" No, according to Ramirez-Rosa's office. "[The Chicago Department of Transportation] has worked closely with Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation to coordinate planned construction and ensure there will be no conflicts."

Find more info about the TOD on the project' website.

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