Evergreen Real Estate Group recently joined public-private partners for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting to celebrate the completion of Independence Apartments, a six-story, 44-unit affordable senior rental community located above the new Independence Branch Library in Chicago’s Irving Park neighborhood.
Evergreen executives were joined by 45th Ward Ald. Jim Gardiner and officials from the Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Department of Housing for the Sept. 23 grand opening celebration. Designed by award-winning architecture firm John Ronan Architects, the pioneering project at 4022 N. Elston Avenue has been heralded for co-locating much-needed affordable senior apartments with a new library that serves both residents and neighbors in the surrounding community.
“Independence Apartments is truly something to celebrate as it represents what creativity and collaboration can achieve in addressing the affordable housing shortage here in Chicago, and in neighborhoods across the nation,” said David Block, director of development at Evergreen Real Estate Group, the project’s developer. “Evergreen Real Estate Group is proud to have worked with a team of public-private partners who were willing to explore new solutions to longstanding challenges, resulting in a model that is pioneering in both concept and design.”
The 36 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom apartments, which include 30 public housing and 14 affordable residences, are nearly fully occupied. Units feature modern kitchens and baths, and recessed balconies that add colorful accents to the building’s exterior. In addition to the two-story library, which offers book discussions, movie screenings and adult crafting classes such as knitting, residents enjoy access to a fitness room and outdoor terrace with green space.
Patricia Schroeder, a 62-year-old lifelong Chicagoan, moved into her new one-bedroom apartment in late July. She’s currently retired and has lived in the Irving Park neighborhood for most of her life.
“Independence Apartments has allowed me to afford living on my own in the community that has become my home,” Schroeder said. “I love being able to stay active in the community’s fitness center, as well as living adjacent to the library, where I can borrow cookbooks and exercise videos. The location near public transportation, and within walking distance of a grocery store, also has made my life easier.”
Independence is one of two co-located affordable housing/library projects developed by Evergreen and its public partners. Evergreen’s Northtown Apartments, an affordable senior housing community connected to and developed simultaneously with the new Northtown Branch Library, opened earlier this year in Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood. Built in partnership with the city of Chicago, Chicago Housing Authority and Chicago Public Library, and designed by Perkins and Will, the apartments at 6800 N. Western Avenue feature a total of 44 one-bedroom units for low-income seniors.
Both projects were funded, in part, with federal low-income housing tax credits and Illinois affordable housing tax credits provided by the Chicago Department of Housing. The Northtown development also received federal HOME funds from the Illinois Housing Development Authority.
Other financing partners for the project include CIBC, City Real Estate Advisors, TCF Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Clocktower Tax Credits LLC, ComEd Energy Efficiency Program, North River Commission and predevelopment lenders LISC Chicago and Chicago Community Loan Fund.