Groundbreaking celebrates construction of Illinois’ first residential project for blind and visually impaired

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The Foglia Residences at The Chicago Lighthouse will offer 76 studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments that will be fully accessible for people with vision impairments.

Chicago Construction News staff writer

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Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony last week for Foglia Residences at Chicago Lighthouse, the first residential project directed at people who are blind or visually impaired.

It’s the first residential development of its kind in the country.

The development is a partnership with Brinshore Development LLC and Landon Bone Baker Architects, and construction will be financed through Low Income Housing Tax Credits in the United States. The building will include 76 studio, one-and two-bedroom apartments, as well as a fitness center, a community room, ground-level retail, and residential parking.

Speaking at the ceremony, Chicago Ald. Walter Burnett commended the project contractor McShane Construction for partnering with Ashlaur Construction, an African-American contractor.

“We really appreciate the fact that they are hiring people from the warrant. We think that’s very important,” said Alderman Burnett, pointing to a foreman in the crowd who is working on the project.

“We really appreciate to see young folks grow and get involved in this business  . . . especially women.”

As construction gets underway, Burnett says he is eyeing a neighbouring property across the street and seeking state support for another affordable housing project.

“With a tower evoking The Chicago Lighthouse’s beacon of hope, The Foglia Residences will serve as a model for similar residential projects across the country,” said Dr. Janet P. Szlyk, president and CEO of The Chicago Lighthouse.

“For people who are blind or visually impaired, finding safe, affordable, accessible housing is more difficult than it ought to be in the United States. We are proud to be part of the solution.”

Though the building will be an income-qualifying development open to anyone meeting certain criteria, the residential units and public areas will include features to help people with visual impairments live independently including high-contrast wall-tiles, varied floor textures to indicate room transitions, built-in voice controls, and Braille signage.

“I am very proud to say that I am the alderman right now for a development like this in my ward, the first one in the City of Chicago and probably the State of Illinois.”

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