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An affordable housing complex, slated to be built in a long-empty former cable television facility in Oak Park, was recently rejected in its application for state funding critical to make the development happen.
But developers of the Comcast building at 820 Madison St. submitted another application last week, and are confident that the controversial four-story, 51-unit apartment building will be completed on schedule.
"I'm not shocked. Of course, we always want to get funded. Who wants to go back and reapply? But unfortunately it's something we have to do in this business," said Perry Vietti, chief operating officer for Interfaith Housing Development Corp., the company leading the renovation effort.
Interfaith was applying for about $1.4 million each year for the next decade in low-income housing tax credits from the Illinois Housing Development Authority. Vietti said the process was competitive, with 12 other suburban projects vying for funds this time around, and only two granted the credits.
Interfaith and its partner on the project, the Oak Park Housing Authority, submitted their second application to IHDA on Sept. 22 and expect to find out whether they've made the cut in the first quarter of 2012.
Man Yee Lee, a spokeswoman for IHDA, declined to comment on the specifics of why the Comcast project didn't receive funding this time around. All together, 64 projects applied for the tax credits and 22 were awarded. Two made the cut in the category that Interfaith was applying for — Myers Place in Mount Prospect and Emerson Square in Evanston.
Some 102 projects applied by the preliminary deadline last week, Lee said, and IHDA plans to further winnow down the pool after another deadline in December. She said it's common for developers to apply multiple times, and the agency does whatever it can to help them refine their applications.
"We're all on the same side here. We want them to succeed," Lee said.
Vietti emphasized that the tax credits are just one of several funding sources, and in the past Interfaith has had to apply several times before obtaining funding from IHDA.
Some neighbors have voiced concerns about the project, saying it's too dense, has too little parking and should contain a mix of residents with different incomes. But the Oak Park village board disagreed, giving its unanimous approval to the project back in May.
Patricia O'Shea, 39, a critic of the project, takes IHDA's rejection as a sign that it's no sure thing that the apartments will be built. She thinks village hall shouldn't just assume the project will come to fruition and should start exploring more creative ways to redevelop Madison.
John Murtagh, another critic, thinks the rejection relates to the high costs of the development — at hundreds of thousands per apartment.
"Oak Park is stuck with a terminal proposal that will worsen Madison Street's decline," he said.
Despite the setback, Vietti said he still expects the project to remain on schedule, with construction starting in summer 2012.
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