Gwendolyn Place is a key component in the redevelopment of the notorious Robert Taylor Homes public housing project in Chicago.
The new scattered-site development provides 71 mixed-income units in 14 structures comprised mainly of three, five, and six flats. Two of the buildings include ground-floor commercial space.
“It’s been a great addition to the neighborhood,” says Mikki Anderson, vice president of development in Chicago for The Michaels Development Co., which co-developed the project with Brinshore Development. “This is the fifth phase to a larger project that we’ve been doing. It’s nice that we’ve had the support of the elected officials in the city to be able to continue to add much-needed affordable housing.”
Gwendolyn Place is the latest piece in the award-winning Legends South mixed-income, mixed-finance development, which also includes Mahalia Place, Hansberry Square, Savoy Square, and Coleman Place. The $28.3 million development is part of the Chicago Housing Authority's (CHA’s) big Plan for Transformation (now called Plan Forward) to replace the city’s aging public housing with new mixed-income communities.
Legends South is one of the city’s most ambitious efforts to revitalize public housing that, once completed, will include 2,400 rental and affordable homeownership units.
The initial phases reconnected the formerly isolated superblock high-rise site to the street grid by adding new streets, scaling the blocks for more comfortable walking distances, and establishing a variety of public, semi-public, and private courtyard spaces.
Gwendolyn Place is one of the most unique and challenging phases so far because it covers multiple properties in the neighborhood. The team utilized vacant city-owned parcels to develop the project. It was worth the effort, as the development has eliminated empty and troublesome sites, delivered new housing, and spurred private investment in the neighborhood, Anderson says.
Landon Bone Baker Architects worked to create a development that blends in with the larger historic Bronzeville neighborhood. Gwendolyn Place includes 30 public housing, 23 low-income housing tax credit, and 18 market-rate units. Eight units are reserved for families and individuals requiring supportive services.
A resident services team works with residents to foster economic development and self-sufficiency, health and wellness, and community integration. Residents also have access to a two-acre urban farm located within the Legends South community.
Funding for Gwendolyn Place includes tax increment financing from the city, capital from the CHA, and low-income housing tax credit equity from Riverside Capital and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.