Affordable Project Breaks Ground in Chicago’s Logan Square

The community seeks to address displacement caused by rapid gentrification.

Chicago’s city government acquired the site in 2019, with the intention of redeveloping the property as affordable housing. Image by Stephen J. Serio, courtesy of the Chicago Department of Housing

The city of Chicago and the Chicago Housing Authority have begun construction on two affordable housing buildings on Chicago’s Northwest Side. The development, Encuentro Square, will feature 89 affordable apartments at the confluence of three rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, Logan Square, Humboldt Park and Hermosa.

The development is located at the west trailhead of The 606, Chicago’s first linear park. Also known as the Bloomingdale Trail, The 606 has catalyzed substantial gentrification in the communities through which it passes since it debuted on June 6, 2015.

A joint venture of not-for-profit housing developer Latin United Community Housing Association and for-profit housing developer Evergreen Real Estate Group, Encuentro Square will feature 70 family-sized apartments with two or more bedrooms.

There will be 55 units that will receive long-term project-based rental assistance administered by the Chicago Housing Authority, with 44 of these to be family-sized units. Among the amenities offered at Encuentro Square will be a community room, teaching kitchen, onsite management offices, bicycle storage, a children’s room and a courtyard. Community support services will also be available to residents.

The project site was acquired by the Trust for Public Land during the planning and construction of The 606. The city acquired the site in 2019, with the mandate the one-time industrial parcel be redeveloped as affordable housing and public parkland.

Critical need for affordable housing

“Affordable housing is critically needed in this area,” David Block, director of development for Evergreen Real Estate Group, told Multi-Housing News. “Gentrification pressure has been a huge force for change in Logan Square for at least the last decade, but definitely since the completion of The 606 trail, which is just adjacent to this site.”

The project reached the construction stage despite facing many hurdles, including macroeconomic events. “Since we embarked on this development, we experienced two turnovers in the mayor’s office and one turnover in the aldermanic seat,” said Block. “We started in a period where interest rates were hovering around 6 percent, then dipped down to 3.5 to 4 percent and they are now back up in the 6.5 to 7 percent range, which has meant a lot of volatility. Also, from where we started in 2018 to where we are today, construction costs have increased by 50 percent or more. Not to mention a global pandemic occurring smack in the middle of our planning.”

Triumphing over these obstacles was made possible by the hard work put in by the in-house development team and the project partners, particularly LUCHA and the architecture firm Canopy, Block noted. “These partners, along with many others who had a hand in this project, truly care about making neighborhoods better places to live.”

Several months ago, Evergreen topped out a Chicago-area senior housing project.

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