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Far South Side senior housing project approved by city despite resident concerns

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The 7-story building will break ground in September

City of Chicago

While senior housing usually doesn’t cause much controversy, that wasn’t the case with a $34 million senior housing project in Calumet Heights.

On Thursday, a large crowd attended the Chicago Plan Commission meeting to voice their issues with the Montclare Senior Residence planned for a site at 9329-9429 S. Stony Island Avenue. However, officials still chose to approve the zoning change required for the development.

The senior housing development, built by Des Plaines-based MR Properties LLC, is geared toward independent living, according to Colin Regan, a principal at the company and one of the developers leading the project.

The seven-story building will be 71 feet and house a total of 134 units. Most of the property will be made up of affordable units with just 30 two-bedroom units priced at market rate. There will also be a community meeting room, fitness center, media room, art room, library, computer lab, beauty salon and laundry room.

Those against the project urged the commission not to approve the zoning change, arguing that the building was too large for the neighborhood and a development such as a movie theater or bowling alley, would better serve the area.

“[My neighbors and I] are not interested in having a 7-story building looking down their backyards,” Cathaline Carter, a resident of 30 years, said at the meeting. “This is a stable community of single-family homes. We don’t want us and our home values to go down.”

Some questioned whether affordable housing for low-income residents was even needed in Calumet Heights which was a “middle class” neighborhood. Looking into neighborhood demographics though, nearly 25 percent of households had an income of less than $25,000 and those who are 65 and older made up 24 percent of the area’s population, according to data collected in 2015.

Alderman Michelle Harris and a few residents at the meeting were in favor of the project which they thought would be beneficial. This development would allow older homeowners, who might not be able to take care of their properties, to stay in their community. Based on the developer’s vision and past work, Alderman Harris is fully confident in the project.

“There’s a need for senior housing,” Harris said. “In the past two weeks, my office has been overwhelmed with 70 requests to live in a building that’s currently not built. To this day, my office fielded only four calls against the development.”

Some residents criticized the alderman, suggesting that more public outreach and surveys should have been conducted to determine the best use of the site.

Regardless of the opposition seen at the meeting, the development will move forward. MR Properties expects to break ground by September 2018 and open the following year.