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John Ronan’s Independence Branch library/apartment project ready to move forward

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The development at 4022 N. Elston Avenue landed a $23 million construction permit

John Ronan Architects

An innovative development bundling a public library with affordable housing units was awarded its first building permit on Thursday, clearing a path for construction to begin near the intersection of Elston Avenue and Irving Park Road on Chicago’s North Side.

Known as the Independence Branch, the six-story project is a collaboration between Chicago Public Libraries, the Chicago Housing Authority, private developer Evergreen Real Estate Group and John Ronan Architects.

A 16,000-square-foot library will anchor the lower two levels of the crisp, modern-looking structure. Flooded with natural light, the civic component sports reading and learning spaces for all age groups, a dedicated play area, and a multi-purpose community room.

A rendering of the Independence Branch’s bright ground floor library space.
John Ronan Architects

The four upper levels will contain 44 apartments comprising of 30 public housing units and 14 affordable-rate units. The dwellings will boast brightly colored insert balconies designed to give residents a sense of “individual identity,” according to Ronan’s website.

Irving Park’s upcoming Independence Branch is the first of three combination affordable housing/library projects commissioned by the City of Chicago from notable local architecture firms. Plans also call for a Perkins+Will-designed Northtown Branch in the West Ridge neighborhood and a Roosevelt Square Branch in Little Italy from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.