Community Builders trims downtown affordable housing project with YMCA

Assemble Chicago plans downsized by two floors and 93 apartment units 

Community Builders Trims Affordable Housing Project in Downtown

Community Builders’ Kamena Brooks and Rendering of Assemble Chicago (Getty, Community Builders, LinkedIn)

A downtown affordable housing project anchored by YMCA has been drastically scaled back due to financial constraints.

Assemble Chicago, spearheaded by Studio Gang and nonprofit developer the Community Builders, was originally slated for a 20-story structure with 207 apartments and a 14,000-square-foot YMCA, at the corner of Plymouth Court and Van Buren Street, catering to families earning 30 to 80 percent of the area median income.

However, the developers recently revealed a trimmed version that calls for a 12-story building with 114 units, while the size of the YMCA remains the same, Block Club reported. Troubles securing funding and broader market challenges prompted the shift in plans.

“Over the past three years costs have increased, interest rates have risen,” Kamena Brooks, director of development for the Community Builders, told the outlet. “So we’re still trying to make use of scarce resources [and] funding available, and so we’ve had to make a decision to reduce the number of units to move the project forward.”

The original proposal, a $100 million net-zero building, won the city’s C40 Reinventing Cities competition for the redevelopment of city-owned land.

The developers applied for Low Income Housing Tax Credits to cover 50 percent of the project’s cost, but securing such credits is competitive, raising uncertainty about the project’s funding. 

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For the revised plan, rental subsidies have been secured for 38 of the 114 mixed-income apartments. The affordable units will be reserved for renters with incomes between 30 and 80 percent of the area median income, the outlet said.

While residents at a recent community meeting expressed support for the project, some voiced hope for additional funding to increase the number of affordable units. Alderman Lamont Robinson, whose ward includes the project site, praised Assemble Chicago and expressed relief that the project could contribute to managing Pritzker Park, which has faced neglect and rat infestation. 

The YMCA is also in discussions with Park District leaders about potential uses for the nearby park, envisioning it as a space for community programs.

The developers initially targeted a 2028 completion date, but the project’s timeline remains uncertain. 

—Quinn Donoghue 

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