Friday, April 2, 2010

Neighborhoods Take the Offensive on Affordable Housing

(Rendering of proposed building at 3230 W. Armitage Ave., from the Zapata Apartments web site)

The Zapata Apartments development, three buildings with 66 affordable residential units and ground-floor commercial space, seems to a lot of people like a very good idea. Filling vacant spaces on and near Armitage Avenue and providing a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, the Zapata project is a response by two respected community groups – Logan Square Neighborhood Association and Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation – to the heavy local demand for affordable housing.

But there's another viewpoint, a familiar one in Chicago, that there's enough "low-income" housing already and that what the neighborhood needs is more market-rate development. A local homeowner, Zach Abel, has organized neighbors against the Zapata Apartments and filed suit to stop development.

WBEZ did a radio report that attracted quite a flurry of rants and rationales in its comments section. John McCarron wrote a piece for the New Communities Program, which supports the project, about "the risk and rancor that goes with brick-and-mortar community development in these uncertain times." And backers of the project have just launched a new web site,, where they offer details of the development and encourage readers to sign and distribute petitions.

Seems to me that building affordable housing makes a lot more sense right now than adding more condos to an over-saturated market, but maybe I just don't get it. What do you think?

1 comment:

Joel said...

I read the Zapata Apartments website. It sure does not seem scary to me -- it looks like the kind of project that would be an asset to any neighborhood.