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25 units cut from controversial Jefferson Park apartment plan

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The veteran-friendly project has endured considerable community backlash including short-lived lawsuit

An earlier, 2017 rendering of Veteran’s Circle at 5150 N. Northwest Highway.
Cordogan Clark & Associates

In Jefferson Park, a highly-debated affordable apartment development, aimed at veterans and those with disabilities, has reduced its number of units in response to community concerns.

The project at 5150 N. Northwest Highway will still rise seven stories, but will now have 75 units instead of 100, according to a statement from 45th Ward Alderman John Arena. The original plan was unveiled by developer Full Circle Communities in January of 2017 and was met with considerable backlash from a number of Jefferson Park residents who voiced concerns over the project’s height, density, and affordable housing component.

Neighbor groups organized to collect over 3,000 signatures on a petition and raised more than $13,500 in a crowd-funding campaign to support legal action against the project. In April, residents filed a lawsuit against the city and Alderman Arena alleging that the zoning approval process had been unlawful. A judge was quick to dismiss the neighbors’ request for a temporary restraining order on the project zoning approval, stating that opponents “presented no facts indicating that an emergency or irreparable injury exists.”

Despite the previous 100-unit iteration earning the approval of the Chicago City Council last year, the $26 million Veteran’s Circle development at 5150 N. Northwest Highway will now feature fewer apartments. The percentage of three-bedroom, family-sized units was also reduced in a move to lessen the potential impact on the local school system. Full Circle Communities made the changes in response to “community feedback,” said Alderman Arena on Twitter.

The developer aims to have at least half of its 75 units occupied by former members of the US armed forces. As for its affordability component, 45 units will be made available to households earning at or below 60 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), 15 units will go to households with incomes at 30 percent AMI, and 15 units will be provided at market rate. Parking has also been reduced from 62 to 40 on-site spaces.

While the apartment development hopes to break ground in late 2018, the first phase of the redevelopment—an adjacent storage facility—was recently issued a demolition permit. Also approved by the Chicago City Council last year, this first phase of the 5150 N. Northwest Highway redevelopment is expected to begin construction later this spring.