East Garfield Park development plan altered after community input

A bird's eye rendering, looking east, of Preservation's proposed East Garfield Park housing development. | Courtesy Preservation

From Austin Weekly News:

After months of community meetings and revisions, the Boston-based nonprofit developer Preservation of Affordable Housing is submitting its finalized plans for the vacant lots at the spot where Fifth Avenue dead-ends into Kedzie Avenue, at 3145 and 3150 W. Fifth Ave.

The plan, however, has been revised in light of concerns raised by community members.

Preservation, which owns both blocks, is asking the city to allow them to build a mixed-use development that Chicago zoning regulations wouldn’t normally allow while also locking them into the plans they submitted to the city.

Plans for the blocks include the construction of two buildings with commercial space on the section of the ground floor facing Kedzie Avenue, public green spaces on each side, rooftop gardens and solar panels.

The original plan called for 77 residential units, 32 of which would’ve been affordable, 31 of which would have been collectively owned and 14 would’ve been market-rate.

The revised plan calls for all units to be affordable, with the south building having up to 50 apartments and the north building having 32 units that would be either condos or cooperative housing.

The developer also changed the building’s color scheme to add more variety, incorporatedWest African design elements and included more space for artwork. The plan was unanimously approved by the Chicago Plan Commission on Nov. 18. It now heads to the Chicago City Council for final approval. Preservation hopes to begin construction in the spring of 2022.

Mike Tomas, the executive director of the Garfield Park Community Council (GPCC), told the Plan Commission that his organization originally had concerns about the building design and the lack of community participation. The public engagement and changes the nonprofit developer has made since then changed their minds.

“I’m pleased to report that [Preservation] listened to our concerns and listened to the community and made significant improvements to the design based on the community input,” he said. “The passive design and renewable energy features are in alignment with our goal to create positive health and climate outcomes for local residents.”

Tomas added that Preservations plans to engage local residents to ensure they’re prepared to apply for housing once the project is complete.

Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), whose ward includes the project site and who lives a few blocks away, has supported Garfield Green from the beginning. He said that Preservation has had “probably one of the most robust community engagements” he’s seen as an alderman.

“I will say that the developers and the team have done a great job engaging the community in everything that happened on this site,” Ervin said. “What excites me is the opportunity for affordable rental and affordable homeownership at this particular site.”

For more information about Garfield Green, visit https://www.c40garfieldpark.org/.