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Ickes redevelopment moves forward, leaves some wanting more public housing

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Once home to over 1,000 CHA homes, the latest plan for the former Ickes site will feature 222 public units

Community Builders/CHA/McCaffery Intetests

As the redevelopment of the South Side’s former Harold L. Ickes Homes into a mixed-use, mixed-income development prepares to move forward, not everyone is thrilled with the plan’s diminishing amount of on-site public housing. Originally announced to contain 402 Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) residences back in 2007, the number was reportedly cut to 312 units in 2009, and currently stands at 222.

“The delays and routine decreases in the amount of planned [public] housing is a slap in the face of the very people that the CHA was designed to help,” Rod Wilson, executive director of Bronzeville-based Lugenia Burns Hope Center told Gazette Chicago last week.

At the high point of its occupancy, the 1950s era Ickes Homes encompassed over 1,000 CHA units. The high-rise structures at the intersection of Chicago’s South Loop and Bronzeville neighborhoods—bounded by State Street, Federal Avenue, Cermak, and 25th Street—were demolished between 2009 and 2010, leaving 11 acres of increasingly valuable land vacant and ripe for redevelopment.

The issue over Ickes is the latest chapter in the complicated and ongoing story of Chicago public housing’s efforts to form new public-private partnerships and take advantage of rising near-downtown real estate markets in places like Cabrini Green and the former Julia C. Lathrop Homes. For Ickes, the CHA will be teaming up with developers The Community Builders (TCB) and McCaffery Interests.

CHA/TCB/McCaffery

The multi-phase project will create a total of 877 rental and for-sale units plus new retail spaces, parking for 800 vehicles, and an athletic field for nearby Jones College Prep. International architecture firm Gensler is serving as the Ickes master planner with additional design work coming from Antunovich Associates, Nia Architects, Brook Architecture, and Worn Jerabek Wiltse.

While mixing income levels has been a successful formula for the CHA in recent years, a breakdown of 50% market rate, 30% public, and 20% so-called workforce housing (earmarked for households making between 60% to 120% of the median area income), it’s obvious that not all of Ickes’ former residents will be guaranteed a place to live in the new development.

Work on the project’s 319-unit (94 public, 58 affordable rate, and 167 market rate) Phase I is expected to begin later this year. A new website for the development is currently under construction.

CHA/TCB/McCaffery
CHA/TCB/McCaffery