While NY and SF Struggle, Chicago Readies for More Public Housing

One of Chicago’s oldest public housing projects is about to become Chicago’s newest mixed-income housing project, and is getting ready to welcome thousands of new residents.

Rendering of Lathrop Homes (via Related Midwest)
Rendering of Lathrop Homes (via Related Midwest)

The landmark Lathrop Homes property along the North Branch of the Chicago River is being redeveloped by River North’s Related Midwest, Bickerdike Redevelopment, and Heartland Housing into 1,116 new apartments. Fourty-four percent of those homes will be leased at market rate, 20% will be affordable housing, and the remaining 36% will be public housing.

The waitlist for the 222 affordable units recently reopened. You can’t apply online, but there is information about the process here. The 400 public housing units have their own waitlist with the Chicago Housing Authority.

In cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles there is a common cry that real estate developers can’t build affordable housing because there’s no money to be made in that sector. Chicago outfits like Related Midwest and upstairs bunkmate The Habitat Company prove this is tommyrot. Both have engaged in significant affordable housing developments in recent years, and neither shows signs of going belly-up.

Rendering of Lathrop Homes (via Related Midwest)
Rendering of Lathrop Homes (via Related Midwest)

Lahtrop Homes was one of Chicago’s earliest public housing projects when the 34-acre campus opened on the seam between Lincoln Park and North Center in the late 1930’s. Seventy-five years later it landed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The new Lathrop Homes isn’t your grandfather’s public housing complex. Related describes it thusly:

Lathrop residents have access to more than 17 acres of open space on the property. This includes a scenic landscaped riverfront including a half-mile pedestrian riverwalk with pathways, bridges, kayak launch and native plantings; a two-acre Great Lawn with connection from Clybourn Avenue to the riverfront; an updated Elizabeth Wood Park featuring a new play lot; and a dog park.

The units all feature stainless steel appliances, quartz kitchen countertops, in-unit washer and dryer and plank flooring. The scenery outside the buildings, including an iconic swath of green space known as the Great Lawn, has been fully rehabilitated and updated by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh & Associates, known for their work on Maggie Daley Park and The 606 trail. Each residence, regardless of the resident’s income contains identical features and finishes, all reflecting modern designs.

Having lived in public housing twice in my life when I was just starting out, Related deserves a big wet golden retriever kiss if it pulls this off.

Location: 2000 West Diversey Avenue, Lathrop Homes

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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