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Logan Square architects pitch market concept for parking lot next to ‘L’ station

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Another group of community members have come forth with a different proposal for the Emmett Street parking lot

34-Ten Architecture

While affordable housing advocates were canvassing Logan Square to gather support for a new development near the Logan Square Blue Line station, other residents were quietly drafting plans for a different type of proposal for the publicly owned parking lot along Emmett Street. Architect and Logan Square resident Josh Hutchison has come forth with a conceptual proposal to have an open air market built at the site where others are pitching a 100% affordable housing development. Hutchison says that he and the staff at his firm, 34-Ten Architecture, have been working quietly on drafting the concept, but were going to wait until the after New Year’s to unveil it. However, as chatter regarding another plan for the site has grown louder in the last couple of weeks, Hutchison said that he felt that he had to get it out sooner.

“In my mind, it seems like the alderman has his mind made up,” Hutchison said in regards to the proposal from United Neighbors of the 35th Ward to erect a 100% affordable housing development at the site. Hutchison doesn’t believe that any type of housing is the best use of this city-owned property. Instead, he and his colleagues have put forth an idea for a year-round market at the site. The draft concept reveals a market that could have an open roof during warmer months and then close when it is cold, allowing tenants and residents access and comfort all year round.

Hutchison tells us that he and his wife became disillusioned by the series of meetings in 2014 hosted by then-alderman Rey Colon and the Metropolitan Planning Council, which focused on concepts for redeveloping the large, underutilized plaza at the Logan Square Blue Line station and the parking lot next door on Emmett Street. “My wife and I came out of these meetings feeling railroaded,” Hutchison said. While the outcome of the charettes outlined the community’s desire for more green space and affordable housing, Hutchison believes that the process was tainted by the affordable housing developer Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, which had a large contingent present at the meetings.

However, some community advocates say that a 100% affordable housing development at the site is the best use of the property. “I think that the fact that it’s such an opportunity is why we need affordable housing here,” Logan Square community organizer and affordable housing advocate Daniel La Spata tells us. “There is no better way to give back to the community than having it be 100% affordable housing.”

La Spata says that he believes that preserving the makeup of the community is just as important as preserving the historic housing stock which has drawn so much attention and investment to the neighborhood. “If we just build affordable housing in the least valuable parcels maybe it’s more cost effective in the long run,” La Spata suggests. “But I think it’s worth thinking about how we preserve the human environment as well as the built environment.”

Google Street View

Yet, Hutchison believes that there should be an open discussion on how to use this land. “People need to see other proposals,” Hutchison says. The local architect believes that building private residences on the property only benefits the few residents who get to live there. “I strongly, strongly believe that public land remain public land for public use.”