Lightfoot picks affordable housing project for East Garfield Park

A rendering of the project dubbed Hub 32, to be built at Lake Street and Kedzie Avenue in East Garfield Park.

A $47.2 million apartment building with 100% affordable units will be built next to a Green Line stop in East Garfield Park, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.

Her administration selected the winner from three development proposals submitted for the site at 132 N. Kedzie Ave. The nearly half-acre property at the southwest corner of Kedzie and Lake street has been city-owned since the 1990s.

The winning proposal calls for a seven-story, 63-unit building. Investors in the project include the Michaels Organization, KMW Communities and TruDelta Real Estate.

As the chosen development team, they will be eligible for city help, including subsidies available from tax increment financing. Details must be negotiated, and the project has to go through the city’s standard zoning review process.

“The inclusion of design features and amenities that reflect the desires of the community, along with the development team’s demonstrated history of successfully executing catalytic projects, made this proposal stand out,” Lightfoot said in a statement prepared for the announcement. “I am confident that this development will revitalize the site and its surrounding area and serve as a much-needed affordable, transit-oriented housing option for East Garfield Park residents.”

Called Hub 32, the 78,000-square-foot building will offer apartments with rents affordable to those earning up to 60% of the area’s median income. Under current rules, a family of four could earn no more than $62,520 a year to be eligible to move there.

Designed by Brooks + Scarpa and Studio Dwell, the site will include ground-floor retail space, 16 exterior parking spots and a public plaza for outdoor dining and gathering. Officials said Jerky Jerk Caribbean restaurant and Vietfive Coffee are expected to be retail tenants.

Construction could begin in early 2024.

A vacant lot at Lake Street and Kedzie Avenue where a $47.2 million apartment building with 100% affordable units will be built.

Lightfoot announced the decision at the Hatchery, a food and beverage incubator across the street from the upcoming development site. She was joined by city officials, members of the winning development team and community members.

The outgoing mayor touted the survey that the city used to help determine which project to green light and urged local residents to follow its developments.

“I won’t be here, but you will be, so be sure to hold us accountable and make sure it gets done,” she said.

The project is one of several pending development matters Lightfoot’s aides are trying to push ahead in the final weeks of her administration.

“This cadence of economic progress was always part of the plan by the mayor,” said her deputy for economic development, Samir Mayekar. He said complex projects take time to finalize, and announcements planned during the next few weeks “are a testament to the gears that the mayor has gotten in motion.”

The city’s planning department solicited proposals from developers for the East Garfield Park site in 2022, receiving more than 30 responses that were winnowed to three finalists.

Hub 32 will improve a transit-oriented site and be a model for more mixed-use investment in East Garfield Park, said Ald. Jason Ervin, whose 28th Ward includes the property.

The city said it would remain in contact with developers of a runner-up proposal for the Lake and Kedzie property. The team of Imagine Development Group and Evergreen Real Estate Group proposed building 60 units, and officials said they will talk with them about bringing their plans to a nearby property.

Among those attending Wednesday was Mike Tomas, president of the Garfield Park Community Council, who applauded the surveys the city conducted but said the process could have been improved.

“We just wish the community engagement happened earlier on in the process,” he said. “The community was brought in to react to what the city came up with.”

He also expressed some concerns about how the next mayoral administration will handle the project.

But, he said, residents are excited to see the area potentially become what it once was.

“It’s neat that what’s being proposed is bringing that back in the 21st century,” he said, “with modern design but still those essential retail services we need.”

Michael Loria is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South Side and West Side.