Independence Apartments and Library is bringing renewal to Chicago’s Irving Park neighborhood.
The development meets critical neighborhood needs, creating 44 units of affordable housing for seniors and rebuilding a much-needed library in the city’s North Side. It is one of three co-located library and affordable housing projects that stemmed from a city-spearheaded design competition.
Evergreen Real Estate Group partnered with John Ronan Architects, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, the Chicago Public Library, and the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) to make the project a reality.
“I think what’s so innovative is this is a true public-private partnership,” says David Block, director of development at Chicago-based Evergreen Real Estate Group. “It provides the best of both worlds—a terrific library, but also high-quality affordable housing.”
The 16,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art library has been a hub of activity since it opened earlier this year and a blessing for the community, which had rallied for a full-service branch for decades and especially after a fire destroyed its rented space in 2015.
Seniors began to move into the apartments in June. All 44 units are affordable to seniors 62 and older at or below 60% of the area median income. In addition, 30 of the units receive project-based vouchers through the Rental Assistance Demonstration program from CHA, which has been working to replace over 500 units of public housing in North Side communities.
A part-time service coordinator will help connect residents to the services they need, but the library also will provide resources and an intergenerational space for the seniors to interact with the community.
“It didn’t just get built with two separate facilities. We have an amazing project where we can continually work collaboratively on programming between library and residential staff,” adds Kate Gronstal, project manager at Evergreen.
The $33.3 million development leveraged various resources, including CHA capital funds and low-income housing tax credit equity.