Construction has started on the Maria Elena Sifuentes Apartments, a mixed-use development with 50 housing units on the north side of Chicago.
Celadon Partners, project developer and owner, is a member of Communities United’s affordable housing initiative Renters Organizing Ourselves to Stay (ROOTS). The mission of ROOTS is to preserve and create affordable housing in the city’s high-need neighborhoods, which have been dramatically impacted by gentrification over the past two decades.
The Maria Elena will include 42 energy-efficient units that are affordable to households earning 60% or below the area median income (AMI), with multitiered rental rates to serve all community members. An additional eight units will be set aside to accommodate workforce level rates for households at or below 80% of the AMI. Residents will benefit from bilingual staffing, services, and signage throughout the property.
In addition to providing affordable housing options to the community, the project will prioritize the needs of working families by providing access to a convenient, enriching, and accredited child care option. Concordia Place—an award-winning, locally based nonprofit day care provider for resident families and the surrounding community—will occupy the ground floor commercial space.
The new property will also feature multiple community-produced art and mural installations, competitively commissioned from within Albany Park by the ROOTS team.
“Housing is one of the most basic human needs,” said 33rd Ward Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez. “It is deeply connected with our health and our safety and that of our communities. We are in dire need of affordable housing in our communities, and we are grateful for this partnership between community, city, and developers that will deliver some of those desperately needed affordable units. This project has been a long time coming, and l feel a lot of gratitude for every person, institution, and organization who joined us in the fight to materialize it. I can’t wait to see it become a home for so many families who need it.”
Initially, the development was to be named Metropolitan Apartments when selected in March 2020 by the Chicago Department of Housing (DOH). Strong advocacy by Communities United, guided in part by Maria Elena Sifuentes, a community leader and Communities United board member, contributed to the success of the project’s application. Sifuentes passed away on June 10, 2021, from complications related to COVID-19. After consulting with her family, the development team decided to name the property after Sifuentes in honor of her service to the Albany Park community.
“This development builds on our earlier affordable housing preservation efforts and years of work with our community partners and ROOTS to address the issues facing the Albany Park community, and we are proud to provide these 50 new homes to low-income families in a neighborhood that has lost thousands of units of affordable and workforce housing,” said Celadon CEO Scott Henry.
Financing for the $24.2 million development includes:
• $14.9 million in low-income housing tax credit equity from the National Equity Fund through an investment by Huntington National Bank;
• A $16.1 million construction loan and a $5.4 million permanent loan from Huntington National Bank;
• $2.5 million in tax increment financing from the city of Chicago; and
• $900,000 in Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit equity from U.S. Bank.
UrbanWorks, in collaboration with Assemble Design Workshop, designed the property to be built by Clark Construction Group and managed by Realty & Mortgage Co.