It’s coming together already. A Target store opened north of Gerding’s site last fall, and a developer is negotiating to buy a parcel just northeast of the store and may build apartments there, says Chicago-based Baum Realty Group LLC Vice President Greg Dietz, who’s selling the property. He declines to identify the developer. Chicago-based Structured Development LLC and John Bucksbaum are building 199 apartments and 360,000 square feet of retail space on the former site of the New City YMCA at Clybourn Avenue and Halsted Street. And a 190,000-square-foot retail-and-office development and new store for boating retailer West Marine are in the works at Division and Halsted streets.But the biggest opportunity may be the Cabrini-Green site itself as well as other vacant land in the area controlled by the Chicago Housing Authority, a 28-acre patchwork that stretches from Division up to Blackhawk Avenue. This fall, the CHA plans to seek development proposals for the land, where it wants a mix of subsidized and market-rate residential units and retail space. The push could add thousands of apartments and condominiums to the area, spurring more development between Lincoln Park and River North—and even to the west.
“There’s easy access to jobs and amenities and restaurants . . . and really you’re not that far from the lake,” says David Brint, principal at Northbrook-based Brinshore Development LLC, which is building an 82-unit mixed-income apartment building at Division and Clybourn. “It’s likely you’ll see the continued evolution of development all the way to the highway.”…
Yet the CHA will have the most influence over the neighborhood’s future. The authority has committed to add 1,786 public housing units in the area to replace those demolished at Cabrini-Green, a project that includes the still-standing Frances Cabrini Rowhouses between Chicago Avenue and Oak Street. So far, the CHA has brought back about 610 public housing units, with 221 in the planning stage, says Richard Wheelock, director of advocacy at legal advocacy group LAF in Chicago.
This is valuable property and this contributed to the longer fight – particularly compared to other high-rise public housing projects in Chicago – between residents and the CHA about what would happen to the land. Thus, it is little surprise that developers are pushing residential and commercial construction. The real question has to do with the status of public housing units: will the CHA follow through in providing nearby units? While some have been built in new mixed-income neighborhoods, there is a long way to go in providing public housing and it may only get more difficult as new market-rate residents and businesses move in.