Making a mixed-income community work: Roosevelt Square

On Tuesday, residents on the Near West Side got to see plans for two new condo buildings being built as part of the Chicago Housing Authority's mixed-income Roosevelt Square development.

While launching the Plan for Transformation, the CHA made plans to demolish around 3,500 ABLA public housing units that were previously located on the site.

goal, initially, was to replace 1,500 public housing units and add
another 700 below-market rate (affordable housing) and 1,000
market-rate units--both of which would be available for rent or
purchase. But even though developers hope to start building the new
for-sale units by the end of the summer, the project has moved far
slower than anticipated.

Eleven years into the Plan for Transformation, a mere 18 percent of the planned ABLA units have been built. And even though plans for the two new buildings are underway, developers say the market will dictate the rate at which the rest of the 255 for-sale units are built.

As the Chicago Journal reported in February, the crash in the real-estate market has stalled the development of market-rate units. And the downturn has slowed construction of the public housing units--which are contingent on private investment--as a result. Brian Bernardoni, a long-time West Side resident and civic leader, responded to the Journal's piece, noting:

The time for blaming each other has to stop. In my opinion, to go on the same old path by indicating that buildings will be built "some day" ignores economic factors, the deep divisions and probable distrust among some of the stakeholders. To avoid transparent discussion with each other to find a shared solution puts at risk the greatest aspirations many of us had when we began working together on this project. To have no plan dooms the community to stagnation.

And what of the ABLA residents? I shudder to think what promises were made to them that were not kept. All of the groups involved in the future of ABLA and Taylor Street should be mindful of the agreements that were made to ABLA residents and the local advisory council. They should do their best to keep these agreements.

The Chicago Reporter went to the Roosevelt Square development to take a look at what isn't working in this would-be model for a mixed-income development.

--Kayla Bensing


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  • Little Village and University Village are different communities. The photo identification is incorrect for photo one.

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