New pitch for Roosevelt Square
Developers unveil plans for two mostly market-rate apartments on Roosevelt Road
08/08/2012 10:00 PM
Roosevelt Square, the controversial development meant to replace public housing on the Near West Side, is getting ready to move forward again with two new apartment buildings.
But few of the units would be subsidized public housing — they’re almost entirely market-rate.
It’s a big departure from the way former Chicago Housing Authority projects have been rebuilt in the past, one which typically dictated that the projects mix market rate, affordable and public housing evenly across buildings.
But the new plan from Roosevelt Square’s developer, Related Midwest, seems to signal a new way forward for the CHA as it reshapes the way Chicago provides public housing.
The two new buildings, at 1255 and 1355 W. Roosevelt Road, would have 120 total apartment units, 80 percent of which would be rented at market rate, the president of Related Midwest said at a community meeting where the firm presented its plans Tuesday night. The remaining 20 percent would be CHA public housing units.
For a two-bedroom apartment, market rate would mean rents of about $1,850 a month; for a one-bedroom, about $1,270 a month; for a studio, about $1,025 a month.
Overall, the two buildings would cost about $30 million to build, about $5 million of which would be paid for by Related Midwest.
Related Midwest’s president, Curt Bailey, said that while the apartment project may not fall into the third-third-third CHA redevelopment mold, they’ve already built enough public housing that this development will simply shift the balance back towards the middle.
“We believe that this is the clearest path for us to start building again,” Bailey told the crowd gathered at the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Little Italy.
But a consistent cry from the audience in the town hall meeting, held by neighborhood group Connecting4Communities, was that renters would not help stabilize the area. They won’t take care of their properties like homeowners do, and if they hear gunshots, they’ll abandon their leases and flee the area.
Instead, many in the audience implored Related Midwest to build more homes for purchase first, rather than rentals.
In the current real estate market, though, building homes and condos for purchase just isn’t a feasible option, Bailey said. The booming rental market has made market-rate apartments an appealing option for developers around the city, he said, and hopefully they’ll want to buy in the area when the market turns around.
“We believe that these buildings will be a feeder system for purchasers,” Bailey said. “They can stick their toe in the water and decide whether they want to stay. People who are choosing to rent are the same demographic as previous Roosevelt Square purchasers.”
The next phase of the development after the apartments is slated to be a series of condo buildings, mostly along Grenshaw Street between South Throop and South Loomis Streets. Related Midwest Vice President Kerry Dickson said as much as they’d like to build the whole phase all at once — apartments, townhomes and all — they just can’t get the funding to do that right now, and it’d be very difficult to get a bank to finance a townhome project at this point.
“The days are gone when, under phase one [of Roosevelt Square, already completed], they’d build all the units at the same time,” Dickson said. “You just can’t get the funding to do that anymore.”
Moving forward, Related Midwest’s next step is to extend the Roosevelt-Racine TIF district, which roughly overlaps with the Roosevelt Square area and will be used to fund the future projects. The TIF fund expires in five years, but Related Midwest has only finished one of the project’s six phases. Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation in 2009 that allows the TIF to be extended, but the city council still needs to sign off on it.
Bailey said that getting the city council to extend the TIF should be about a nine-month process, but after that, they expect to start the 15-month process of building the apartment buildings.
If things go as planned, Bailey said the company expects to have the new apartments up in two years.