On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, Alderman Proco Joe Moreno, 1st Ward, hosted a well attended community meeting at the Concord Music Hall to obtain community input regarding an historic, affordable, transit-oriented development proposal for the Logan Square Community. The LGBTQ friendly, mixed-use development, to be named The John Pennycu Memorial Apartments at Robert Castillo Plaza, would be located at 2031 North Milwaukee Ave, the current site of the Congress Pizzeria.
If approved, the Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation would construct a seven-story, 75-foot, new-construction building which would contain 88 affordable housing units, comprised of 28 studio, 48 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom apartments. It would also contain 2,450 square feet of ground- oor commercial space.
The development would create 150 construction jobs and five permanent jobs. The approximately $23 million development cost would be nanced with a combination of Tax Increment Finance (TIF) funds, tax exempt bonds, Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) funds and private funding. The entire building would have a deed restriction, ensuring that all the residential units would be offered to individuals at 60% Area Median Income or below for the next 30 years.
“I am pleased to bring this TIF-funded, 100% a ord- able housing proposal to the Logan Square community, which is in dire need of more a ordable housing options,” said Alderman Moreno. “As you know, my commitment has always been to utilize TIF funds for two reasons: schools and affordable housing. I think this housing development is a great opportunity to bring even more affordability to Logan Square.”
The John Pennycu Memorial Apartments at Robert Castillo Plaza would be the second LGBTQ-friendly, 100% affordable housing building in the City of Chicago. “This is an historic opportunity in the 1st Ward and for the LGBTQ community,” said Alderman Moreno. “This building would greatly enhance our efforts to provide more affordable housing options to local residents and to accommodate the housing needs of the LGBTQ community.”
The local community organization, the Greater Goethe Neighborhood Association (GGNA), is continuing its extensive and thorough review of the proposal, which has also been vetted by the 1st Ward Affordable Housing Task Force, which includes well-known affordable housing organizations such as La Casa Norte, Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA) Hispanic Housing Corporation, Bickerdike, Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.
A large majority of the residents and community members who attended last night’s meeting expressed enthusiasm and strong support for the proposed development. After the proposal has received final community and aldermanic support, the development plan will be presented to the Chicago Plan Commission for review and approval during the first quarter of 2017.
Editor’s note: John Pennycu and Robert Castillo were born in Logan Square, and they were partners in life as well as in activism. Both were strong advocates for greater equality for Chicago’s LGBTQ communities as well as active supporters of affordable housing in Logan Square. Both Castillo and Pennycu served on the City of Chicago Advisory Council on LGBT Issues and were the first couple to register for the Cook County Domestic Partnership Registry in 2003; they were legally married in 2004. Pennycu was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. He passed away in January 2012, but his legacy and activism in Chicago will forever be memorialized.