CHICAGO—A new low-rise community of housing and retail units is reconnecting sections of this city’s Near West Side that had been long divided by a concentration of public housing projects.

Situated between the University of Illinois at Chicago campus, Little Italy, and a medical district, the new Roosevelt Square development is bringing back low-rise housing and street-level retail to an area where it has been missing for decades.

The Jane Addams Homes, Robert Brooks Homes and Robert Brooks Extension, Loomis Courts, and Grace Abbott Homes public housing (known collectively as ABLA) contained about 2,100 units of housing. As part of the city’s transformation of its public housing stock from large-scale, high-density, low-income housing into decentralized, mixed-income housing, ABLA is being replaced by Roosevelt Square, which is being developed by LR Development Co., LLC.

LR partnered with Heartland Housing, Inc., a Chicago-based non-profit, to develop the rental housing, and with Quest Development, LLC, a Chicago-based minority-owned developer, to develop the for sale housing.

Phase I of Roosevelt Square, completed this January, includes 181 affordable rental units in low-rise, three-, and six-unit buildings, some with ground-floor retail. At press time, those rental units were fully leased. In October, 233 mixed-income for-sale units (including multi-unit buildings and town homes) will be completed.

The development eventually will include six phases totaling more than 2,400 units, including 1,090 rental and 1,351 homeownership units in a mix of public housing, affordable units, and market-rate housing. The six phases all include ground-floor retail and upper-level residential, which will be a mix of townhomes and low-rise buildings.

The development takes advantage of a prime location two miles southwest of the Loop. The nearly eight-acre site of this first phase abuts the Little Italy section of town and is crossed by two commercial streets, Roosevelt Road and Taylor Street. Little Italy is famed for its restaurants and other small businesses, but other area commercial activity had been limited by the sprawling presence of ABLA. “It's very important to the neighborhood and to the city that we return commercial and retail to the street,” said Brad White, vice president of LR Development.

As of late June, retail spaces had been leased to a Citibank branch, a podiatrist, a pizzeria, and a specialty gift company. The rental units were fully leased and about 90 percent of the homeownership units were pre-sold.

In Phase I, the 181 affordable rental units are reserved for families at or below 60 percent of the AMI. Public housing residents will rent 125 of these units, paying rents based on 30 percent of their income (and subsidized by project-based Sec. 8 funding); rents for the remaining 56 affordable units will range from $725 for a one-bedroom apartment to $985 for a three-bedroom.

The financing for the $43.2 million Phase I included $15.4 million in HOPE VI funds, $23.9 million in 9 percent low-income housing tax credit equity (syndicated by CharterMac Capital), and a $500,000 Affordable Housing Program loan from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, through member bank Bank of America (BofA). Additional sources of financing included a construction loan and a $2 million first mortgage from BofA, as well as a contribution from a retail partnership.

The site is managed by LR’s affiliated property management company.