Madison-Grove apartments funding finally secured

Former Comcast building development site gets key go-ahead

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Four years of hard work have paid off for the Interfaith Housing Development Corporation and the Oak Park Housing Authority.

The group announced Monday they have procured sufficient funding commitments to begin construction of the proposed 51-unit mixed-used Grove Apartments that will be located in the former Comcast building at Madison Street and Grove Avenue.

"This is a big deal for us," Gladys Jordan, president of IHDC said Monday. "We can say now we absolutely have all the funding."

Jordan said the Interfaith Housing Development Corporation had to put up about $700,000 for the project, which included market and environmental studies.

Although she said 51 units may not seem like many, the project itself is a big deal in terms of providing people who live and work in Oak Park with affordable housing options. Despite opposition to the project along the way, she hopes this complex can demonstrate the importance of offering diverse housing opportunities in the village.

We're thrilled. … The building is going to go back to being a beautiful building. It will bring life to that corner," Jordan said. "When we finish our development, it will be a pretty hot corner."

Construction for the proposed building is expected to begin in the fall and hopefully ready for people to move in by early 2014, Jordan said. The partners are currently in the processes of closing the financing and have applied for a building permit from Oak Park.

According Jordan, the primary financing for the groups is being provided by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. Additional financing is being provided by the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development and Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. Additionally, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is providing an energy efficiency grant to the development.

"We believe this proposed building will be an important addition to the village's affordable housing, and it will make a significant contribution to the commercial redevelopment of Madison Street," said Edward Solan, executive director of the OPHA, in a news release.

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Social Justice from Oak Park (former resident/renter)   

Posted: August 29th, 2013 11:49 AM

Classism. That is what I experienced in OP. I loved OP until I wan't respected because I didn't have a higher income, a single parent, or owned my home. It didn't matter my culture and values were similar to the residents that work to make a better living. My child received a crappy education from great school system,because of my social economic status. I now have a better education, income and home. I will never live or invest in OP because of the subtle classism that plague it.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 12th, 2013 5:44 PM

There has to be commercial retail on the first floor by ordinance. Interfaith saw this as an important challenge that they wished would go away. They need the rent for operating costs of the housing. By law, a restaurant with open cooking is out by law. The retail will be limited to stores like Federal Express, dry cleaners with external cleaning, etc. Whether Interfaith can attract retailers to a public housing building on a street with lots of vacant retail space is a large risk.


Posted: August 12th, 2013 2:58 PM

There will be commercial retail on ground level.

Jaded Doubter from OP  

Posted: August 12th, 2013 2:08 PM

@All Ears: I think that they decided to count the new drug trade and prostitution that will pop up on Madison next to the development as "retail." It's the only explanation...unless they're planning a "Checks Cashed" or pawn shop in the fireplace store space. Cell phone store? Another wig shop, perhaps?

I Like  

Posted: August 12th, 2013 11:35 AM

Is this new development called the JBM Housing ? Wasnt he instrumental in the wonderful outcome of this beautiful building?

All Ears  

Posted: August 11th, 2013 9:29 PM

I'm all ears, Ed. Just how does this make a significant contribution to the commercial redevelopment of Madison Street? There's a vacant lot next door to the west and a vacant fireplace store next to that. The Walgreens retail space never rented. Your own agent questioned the need for retail here. I don't fault them for it, but the tenants don't have the ability to make a financial impact on commerce on Madison. So where's the contribution? You can stop spewing crap any time now.

vanessa from chicago  

Posted: August 11th, 2013 11:22 AM

where can i apply for the housing of madison-grove apartments?

L.M. from OakPark  

Posted: July 13th, 2013 4:38 PM

I just bought a condo 3 years ago in Oak Park, I hope I did not make a mistake. I pray that I do not have to sell. I REALLY love Oak Park, I hope I am wrong.


Posted: March 20th, 2013 8:25 PM

What's done is done. I hope this plan truly works and that many low-income TA's and disabled folks can live independently. But OP has done more than its fair share in this regard. No more additional housing of this nature until other suburbs pick up the slack. Winnetka, please notify the leaders of OP upon completion of your 51st low-income unit, upon which OP will consider this type of development again. Or Hinsdale. Or Oak Brook. Park Ridge? Anyone?<sound of crickets>

JH from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2013 6:59 PM

To Barb: Pay no attention to some of what is said here. Know that you are seeing stereotypical fears. Not all of us are of the same opinion. I wish you the best.

Barb from Oak Park   

Posted: February 25th, 2013 8:37 PM

I just filled out application for housing in this unit. Hopefully, Iwill be accepted. I take exception to the fact some are making. I am dsiability due to a physical problem. I hear the tterm white trash said , but not spoken. I am far from it. I worked nearly twenty some years and raised five kids. lack of proper help from governement hopefully will help me =get. I am quite respectable and volunteer twice weekly. so all who look down your nose at me, shame on you>

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: February 24th, 2013 2:42 PM

I believe there is a fear when lo-income housing is proposed near our own homes. I think that we are open to new-comers who share are own values. The ideal residents of the Comcast building would be diverse in ethnicity. To me being poor is not a reason to be not welcome to our community. Hopefully, the fears people have will not be realized.

Frank from Oak park  

Posted: February 24th, 2013 12:54 PM

Great, right down the street from where I live. To the teacher that posted here. You are one of the few examples of how this is a need. Otherwise, enjoy the smell of weed in the halls of the building. That's sad to see hopefully oak park can stay safe and up scale.


Posted: July 29th, 2012 11:39 PM

I understand all the concerns, but as a young adult, educated female, working in the Oak Park Elementary School District as a Teacher Assistant,I am one of those "poor" who require housing assistance to live in Oak Park independently.My income is below poverty level for a single adult.Sad I'm helping teach OP children,have a B.S. degree,and have to read such negative commentary by people who misunderstand all who truly are in NEED of assistance to LIVE.Just think about others needs,not yourself.

MichaelO from Oak Park  

Posted: June 22nd, 2012 10:12 AM

John, You ask why Oak Park continues it's low income housing projects. It might have something to do with the ~2 million dollars the village receives annually from HUD. See the Community Development Block Grant under revenues.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 22nd, 2012 12:25 AM

Oak Park Housing and Interfaith could only make Comcast work as singles apartments and plowed ahead knowing that civic pride (affordable housing) would overcome resident resistance and common sense re senior housing. It was successful. The project was not experimental. It was the fulfillment of political promises made during the YMCA fiasco. The experiment is to come starting with Chicago Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation. OP is a member of the about ten surrounding suburb communities that will try to consolidate all the affordable housing needs and state/federal funds. We have already spent over $200,000 with the corporation. Pres. Pope is the energy behind OP's involvement. About ten years ago, the state began to identify communities that had insufficient affordable housing. All had less than 10% affordable. They identified about 50 and imposed rules on the communities to increase affordable housing. Winnetka refused and lawsuits loom. Ironically, OP has about 35% affordable homes. Yet Oak Park continues to expand its low income housing projects. Why? I sure don't know. For instance; if the Metro Development Corp. plan works, OP will not be a beneficiary. Metro's goal is to locate housing near jobs. OP doesn't have many low paid jobs. I am pro public housing, but fear that penalty to housing values is a risk.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 11:19 PM

John, from what you describe, it appears that you need to be poor to qualify, and since no one in Oak Park is interested, and they are obviously living in Oak Park, some where. It's not a senior citizen project, so that leaves people who are poor and want to move into Oak Park. How many dances will the poor have to do to move into Oak Park? Can Oak Park help the poor improve their income level once they move in? What does Oak Park really want to do with the poor. Is this an experiment?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 10:34 PM

Q-In actuality, from an occupancy standpoint it will work out. While it was stated that there would be a OP Housing Preference, the state and HUD would be jaundiced if it was an all OP facility. Any unit not filled by OP preference will be filled by people outside OP. Throughout the plan commission meetings, no one identified any OP employees that showed interest in the facility. As far as local people with special needs, they would not be eligible if they live in a household already. Also no transferring from another social service facility without special qualifications is allowed. Those are a HUD rule. Those OP residents with high incomes that think they will be able to place special needs adult children that live at home will be disappointed. At the Planning and the Board Meetings, there was a young Oak Park woman with disabilities that spoke about her desire to live in the facilities as an opportunity to gain independence. She lives with her parents a stone throw from the facility. Unless her parents are in poverty or the HUD rules are not followed, she will not be eligible. A lot of the Oak Park Preference was malarkey to make the project more palatable. With the nation's and OP population aging, there is going to be a huge need for public housing. That issue was completely ignored by the housing officials.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 4:59 PM

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois, lets say you study the housing project and it doesn't work out, what do you do then? Not allow anymore? What doesn't make sense if people already work in Oak Park, and live in Oak Park, then what do they need affordable housing for.

Like button  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 4:02 PM

VMA should get credit for Oak Park being rated #1 by the readers of the Chicago Reader paper. we beat out Naperville, Glenview, Hinsdale, Evanston, etc... Somebody pass this along to Murtagh, Coughlin(enuf), Golden, Marsey, Barsotti, Milstein, Schwab, and Co.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 13th, 2012 9:31 AM

The developers stated that preference would be given to people who currently live or work in Oak Park.

Yahoo is just silly from OP  

Posted: June 13th, 2012 7:04 AM

@Yahoo: yes, the benefactors will be people who don't even live here in Oak Park yet! We're apparently so wealthy in Oak Park that we feel compelled to import our poor people so that we can feel like we've really given back. See how diverse and giving we are?

C. Stewart  

Posted: June 12th, 2012 10:03 PM

Perhaps the village can build a few more wig/braid and nail shops near the project on Madison. We can never have enough wig and nail shops on Madison or Lake Street. What is it up to now, 100? I didn't realized that I lived in the west side of Chicago.


Posted: June 12th, 2012 9:14 PM

This will be an example of how affordable housing can flourish in this village. Thanks to all who voted for this. The real benefactors will be the residents. (who live there) Kudos to all involved.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 11th, 2012 7:19 PM

Now that the Interfaith issue is over, it is time to study the entire process involved in the development and determine if it is a model for how OP should handle Affordable Housing in the future.

It would be hilarious... from Oak Park  

Posted: June 8th, 2012 9:34 PM

It's so appropriate that the Ray Johnson Memorial Housing Project (hilarious and appropriate name, btw) is across the street from the David Pope Memorial Most Sustainable and Ridiculous Drugstore in America (you know, the one that includes the ugly empty storefront and the charging stations no one has the car to plug in). Now if they can just put in some brickpavers and bikelanes, we can all marvel at the visionaries who are "improving" our village!!

Prove me wrong, please. from Oak Park  

Posted: June 8th, 2012 9:27 PM

Well, if it gets built, we'll finally get past the silly PR spin and see what actually happens to that block. I'm not optimistic, but I will be happy to be proven wrong. "Bring to life that corner"....yes, but in a good way? Let's watch crime stats. "People who live and work in Oak Park with affordable housing"....yeah, let's just see how many of the residents actually live in Oak Park currently. "Contribution to redevelopment of Madison street"...highly doubtful with no existing smart plan.

Ray Johnson Memorial Housing Project  

Posted: June 7th, 2012 4:01 PM

I'm pretty sure I agree with Gladys Jordan that it will be a pretty hot corner. I'm just concerned about what it will be hot FOR.

Dooper 58 from Oak Park  

Posted: June 7th, 2012 2:48 PM

I forget...this fits into the Madison Street Plan how, exactly??


Posted: June 6th, 2012 7:57 AM

I told ya so. I told ya so. I told ya so. Now Sertus. LoL

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: June 6th, 2012 7:14 AM

Yes. That's right. Retailers and other businesses will line up to be in or near low income housing.

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