Affordable housing project in Lincoln Square delayed due to battle over parking

City officials say 41 parking spaces is too many for the 51-unit development

Alderman Matt Martin and 4715 North Western Avenue (Alderman Matt Martin, Google Maps)
Alderman Matt Martin and 4715 North Western Avenue (Alderman Matt Martin, Google Maps)

Plans for an affordable housing development in the heart of Lincoln Square have stalled as the developer battles with city officials over parking.

Long-awaited plans to build a 51-unit affordable housing complex at 4715 North Western Avenue hit a snag when Chicago’s Departments of Housing and Planning said city tax credits for affordable housing can’t be used to fund the 41 parking spaces it requested, Block Club Chicago reported.

City leaders say they told developer Community Builders and Alderman Matt Martin, who represents the 47th ward where the development will rise, that while the development was pre-approved, it didn’t mean the project would be approved as-is.

“In order to proceed, the developer would need to reduce the public parking, maximize housing and remove the curb cut to access parking from the alley,” housing department spokesperson Eugenia Orr said in a statement.

Chicago housing officials said 41 parking spaces far outweighs the amount of parking needed for the development and takes away land that could be used for other low-cost housing projects. They said the planned parking lot also doesn’t support the city’s goals to prioritize public transit over personal vehicles.

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According to city officials, Martin and Community Builders haven’t made the requested changes to their plans or communicated the cause of the delay to residents. One official said Martin, instead, led “an extensive process that was divorced from the reality of what the city would support.”

Martin said that while the issue came up before the project was chosen to be considered for tax credits, he thought there would be more wiggle room moving forward.

“It’s one thing to share policy preferences; it’s another thing to say, ‘This is not going to happen after a certain point unless X, Y and Z are changed,’” Martin said. “I was not told, especially in writing, prior to the December announcement, that parking was a nonstarter in any way. … I think that this [current design] is a fair compromise.”

Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara said the purpose of these affordable housing developments is supposed to be to “reduce parking, increase density and maximize affordability.”

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