DL3 wins Plan Commission nod for South Side affordable housing project

Project dubbed Thrive Exchange set to bring $26M development

DL3 Advances South Side Affordable Housing Project

A photo illustration of DL3 Realty’s Leon Walker along with a rendering of the Thrive Exchange development (Getty, DL3 Realty, Thrive Exchange, LinkedIn)

Lori Lightfoot may no longer be mayor of Chicago, but her initiative to vitalize South and West Side neighborhoods through new development and investment is set to deliver another yield as Mayor Brandon Johnson reshaping his predecessor’s vision. 

The Chicago Plan Commission has granted approval for a $26 million affordable housing project in the South Side, near the border of the South Shore and South Chicago neighborhoods, marking the first family housing development in the area in about 75 years, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The project, dubbed Thrive Exchange, is spearheaded by DL3 Realty and part of Lightfoot’s Invest South/West program. The proposed six-story building, situated at the corner of 79th Street and Exchange Avenue, received unanimous support from the commission. 

The development will comprise 43 affordable one- and two-bedroom apartments, along with ground-floor retail, a public plaza facing the Metra tracks, widened sidewalks and new offices for Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago.

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Despite challenges in the area, including a recent bout of crime, DL3 managing partner Leon Walker is determined to proceed with the project, emphasizing the need for investment to catalyze positive change in the area. Thrive Exchange, like other Invest South/West projects, will receive funding from various sources, including tax-increment financing and tax credits.

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DL3 Realty's Leon Walker with rendering of Thrive Exchange
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Walker envisions Thrive Exchange as an anchor for the community that could attract families and professionals who may later become homeowners. The project, costing over $600,000 per unit, is expected to commence construction next year. The developer also has plans for additional phases, including another affordable apartment building, the conversion of the historic Ringer Building into a healthcare center, and an affordable condo development by Revere Properties on a nearby vacant lot, the publication reported.

While the commission supported Walker’s plan unanimously, one of its members, Guacolda Reyes, advocated a more targeted approach in affordable housing, particularly for larger families struggling with rent payments. DL3’s proposal now awaits final approval from City Council.

— Quinn Donoghue