(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, zapataapartments.com, 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?