Large Jefferson Park mixed-income rental building unanimously approved by zoning committee

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A plan to build a new mixed-income housing complex on Chicago's Northwest Side has been unanimously approved by a city zoning committee.

Some aldermen say the Jefferson Park neighborhood, veterans and people with disabilities will all benefit from the planned complex.

But many residents are fighting it.

To move the project forward, a zoning change is needed.

Many residents have been voiced their opposition all Monday afternoon at the zoning committee.

They are concerned about the height of the proposed building and the additional density to Jefferson Park.

Alderman John Arena says the concerns are more about fear.

Artists' renderings show a 100-unit apartment building and storage facility that will take the place of an empty Jefferson Park warehouse along Milwaukee Avenue. The housing portion of the project will be seven stories tall. Dozens of the units will be subsidized for disabled residents and veterans. For Alderman Arena, it's all about bringing affordable housing to the 45th Ward.

"We need to stop stigmatizing certain people based on economic situations and start finding ways to empathize and give folks an opportunity," he said.

But Arena has faced some strong opposition from residents - community meetings in the ward and Monday's zoning meeting have been packed.

"My primary concern is, I don't feel the majority of the community is being listened to," said Lucy Greco, Jefferson Park resident.

But Arena does have the ear of several aldermen. Many stood with him Monday supporting the need for affordable housing in Chicago.

"Everybody lives in government subsidized housing, if you own your home, you get to write off the interest in your mortgage," said Ald. Ameya Pawar, 47th Ward.

"I know there are neighbors that like to do the NIMBY walk, 'not in my backyard,'" said Ald. Ricardo Munoz, 22nd Ward.

But, many residents claim their opposition has nothing to do with the 'nimby walk.' Residents say they are concerned about the project's location, the added density and the height of the building.

"You're packing in a lot of people in an area that already has overcrowding. The infrastructure cannot sustain it," opponent John Garrido said.

"We are just against the height. Four stories or less, we have no problem with it. We welcome the people," said another opponent.

While Alderman Arena says he is willing to compromise, he will not budge on the height issue.

He says a building four stories or less would financially kill the ability for the developer to offer affordable housing.
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