New pitch for Roosevelt Square

Developers unveil plans for two mostly market-rate apartments on Roosevelt Road

08/08/2012 10:00 PM


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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.

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By Tina H from Roosevelt Square
Posted: 10/18/2012 11:16 AM

I am a home owner in Roosevelt Square also, who bought during Phase I. When purchasing, I relied on the fact that the entire area would be revitalized over the next several years in six different phases. However, since the project has stalled, the area has not improved and I have been trying for over 6 years to sell my condo. Any development would be better than leaving these areas vacant. Maybe then, people might actually want to move to this area and purchase my condo.

By Rob from West Loop
Posted: 08/14/2012 12:30 PM

Simply put Payton, because related doesnt own the land the CHA does and the only way that they can build anything on it is if public housing is included.

By Payton from Little Italy
Posted: 08/11/2012 1:35 PM

No more CHA!!!! Why don't Curt Bailey and Kerry Dickson spend a half a million dollars on a home/condo and then pay exorbitant property taxes for a few years, right in the middle of CHA housing and then see what they have to say! In regard to Mr. Bailey's comment: “We believe that these buildings will be a feeder system for purchasers. They can stick their toe in the water and decide whether they want to stay." I am here to tell you that not only will they leave - they may skip rent early!!!!!!!

Posted: 08/10/2012 3:48 PM

So did people really expect a former CHA site to suddenly be developed into the hottest area around? That seems patently unlikely.

By Cody from Bridgeport
Posted: 08/09/2012 11:38 PM

Well, what an efficient use of taxpayer funds. 25 million dollar public subsidy in exchange for 24 public housing units. Only $1 million a unit! This development is not financially feasibly without corporate welfare and therefore shouldn't be built. The public should demand that their money is used in a more efficient manner -- like local area tax exceptions.

By Mark Goeden from Roosevelt Square
Posted: 08/09/2012 4:18 PM

I am a home owner in Roosevelt Square and am looking forward to seeing market rate rentals being built in the community. For those that argue that market rate rental is not committed to the community...I say really? Most everyone of the people that I know who own a home at one time rented before home ownership. I find it interesting how some homeowners forget where they all started. Bring on the Market Units!

By Neil Ross from Roosevelt Square
Posted: 08/09/2012 12:49 PM

Bring on the market-rate renters!!! I moved here during phase 1 - all we have around us is empty lots and former CHA residents who don't want us here. The reality is that development spurs more development - shops, restaurants, more homes - so I hope this project starts soon! As for those complaining "that renters would not help stabilize the area" renters would be a vast improvement over the below-market rate people who live here and let their kids run wild.