2nd affordable transit-oriented development proposed near Logan Square station
Chicago’s Near Northwest Side Logan Square neighborhood is often cited as one of the city’s most glaring examples of gentrification-caused housing displacement, with longtime residents, largely lower-income and working-class Latinos, being priced out of the community. In 2000 Logan Square was majority-Hispanic, with only 20 percent of the residents being non-Hispanic whites, according to a recent WBEZ report. Due the the local development boom over the last two decades, the neighborhood’s white population has grown by 70 percent since then, while the Latino population fell by 47 percent, and the community recently became majority-white for the first time in half a century. During that period, Logan Square’s white population grew by 12,000, while 20,000 Latino residents left the neighborhood.
Many lower-income Latino residents were replaced by higher-income whites. WBEZ’s analysis also found that between 2006 and 2010, only one in 40 households in Logan Square paid over $2,000 in rent. A decade later, more than six times as many Logan Square households pay more than $2,000 in rent. The increase in housing costs has been fueled by a loss of naturally occurring affordable housing due to teardowns of multi-unit buildings to make way for single-family homes and upscale apartments. Property taxes and rents have also risen in the community due to new amenities like the Bloomingdale Trail elevated greenway encouraging more affluent residents to move to the area.
Efforts to address housing displacement in the neighborhood have included a recent moratorium on demolitions along the Bloomingdale, and the all-affordable transit-oriented development currently being built on a former parking lot site on Emmett Street next to the Logan Square Blue Line station. Now there’s a possibility that more transit-friendly affordable housing will be built nearby.
Evergreen Real Estate Group, a Chicago developer specializing in affordable housing, has proposed an 80-unit development with 64 affordable apartments along with ground-floor retail at 2525 N. Kedzie Blvd. according to a report by Block Club Chicago’s Mina Bloom. The site, which is the former location of the original Logan Square station entrance, is still CTA-owned property. The transit agency recently issued a request for proposals inviting developers to submit bids for projects at the site. The land is currently occupied by a brick building which used to house City Lit Books and First Midwest Bank, along with a rear parking lot. The property is two blocks south of the Emmett Street development.
One of the CTA’s goals for the site is the “creation of high-quality affordable housing,” along with “increased and sustainable revenue stream to support the operations of the transit system” and “creation of high-quality transit-oriented development.” David Block of Evergreen told Block Club, “We have been hearing about the really pressing need for affordable housing in Logan Square for years and watching the Emmett Street project come together, and other projects in and around Logan Square. We think we can be a part of the solution and develop something that we think is a great building, a great addition, but also helps deal with affordable housing.” Evergreen is also behind the 100-percent affordable Oso development in Albany Park, located at 3435 W. Montrose Ave., near the Kimball Brown Line station; and the conversion of the former Ravenswood Hospital, 4501 N. Winchester Ave., located near the Damen Brown stop, into a senior housing development.
Block told Block Club Evergreen has not submitted its plan to the CTA but it has met with aldermen and community members multiple times. Block added that it’s likely the project will require a mix of public and private funding, including tax-increment financing money. The boundaries for the closest TIF district, the Milwaukee Avenue TIF, would need to be amended to include the site. The CTA is accepting proposals until April 6 at 3:30pm.
Chicago needs thousands more affordable housing units, especially ones near transit, where good transit access to jobs, education, healthcare, and other amenities can help lower-income and working-class Chicagoans improve their quality of life. I hope this development, or another one with a similarly large proportion of affordable units, is ultimately approved.