Chicago Construction News staff writer
With nearly $40 million in city funding announced for the project, officials launched construction on Auburn Gresham Apartments, a two-building, 58-unit, mixed-use complex in the heart of Auburn Gresham.
The development is the first of more than 10 major construction projects expected to be completed through the INVEST South/West initiative. Through the remainder of 2022, additional INVEST South/West RFP projects are expected to break ground in Englewood, Austin, Humboldt Park and North Lawndale.
“I am thrilled to begin construction on Auburn Gresham Apartments and many other transformative projects on our South and West Sides,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “This transit-oriented development will not only bring affordable housing and dining options to the neighborhood but will revitalize this corridor for all South Side residents to enjoy. I look forward to making continued, unprecedented investments in our targeted neighborhoods in partnership with our communities to realize their visions for their homes.”
A joint venture of minority-owned Imagine Group and Evergreen Real Estate Group, the $43 million project is the result of a Department of Planning and Development (DPD) request for proposals (RFP) for vacant City land at 79th and Green streets.
The proposal was changed through three community workshops, shifting more than half of the proposed units to a second City-owned site at 79th and Halsted Street.
The two-building layout ensures the size and scale of both buildings are contextual with neighbors while adding new vitality and density to formerly vacant city land, according to DPD Commissioner Maurice Cox.
“Auburn Gresham Apartments represents a dream come true for dozens of families that see their future on 79th Street,” Commissioner Cox said. “These stakeholders helped draft the RFP, they helped refine the original proposal, and they’ll be the ones who directly benefit from the new housing, shopping and dining options that this project brings to the neighborhood.”
Designed by minority-led Nia Architects and Ross Barney Architects, the project includes a three-story building at 838 W. 79th St. that will feature 28 one- to three-bedroom apartments, 28 parking spots and 5,200 sq. ft. of commercial space to be occupied by West African food purveyor AYO Foods. A five-story building at 757 W. 79th St. will feature 30 one- to three-bedroom apartments, 14 parking spaces and 3,300 sq. ft. of commercial space occupied by KLEO Community Center and The Park Supper Club.
All the apartments in both buildings will be priced at affordable levels, with monthly rental rates ranging from approximately $925 to $1,250 per month.
“As the first INVEST South/West project to be approved by the City Council and secure both land entitlements and financing, Auburn Gresham Apartments advances the vision set forth by Mayor Lightfoot and shared by our team and the many community stakeholders who helped shape this development,” Imagine Group principal Torrey Barrett said.
DPD and the Chicago Department of Housing (DOH) are supporting the project with $18 million in Tax Increment Financing, $18 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits equity, a $2.5 million HOME loan and a land write-down of approximately $180,000.
Anticipated to be under construction for approximately 18 months, the two development sites feature temporary murals by Chicago artist Rahmaan Statik.
INVEST South/West is an urban revitalization strategy being implemented by Mayor Lightfoot that is guiding $1.4 billion in public and private investment within 10 West and South side community areas.
Other public investments in Auburn Gresham include $11 million in streetscape improvements at 79th and Halsted, a new $35 million Auburn Park Metra station, a $2.6 million Chicago Recovery Plan grant to re-open Save A Lot foods at 7908 S. Halsted, $10 million in assistance for the Healthy Hub at 839 W. 79th and an approximately $500,000 grant to St. Sabina Church to provide corridor ambassadors along local retail streets.