Overhaul of Lathrop Homes

While some residents pleased, others dissatisfied that over half the units to be sold at market rate

In a project that is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, North Center’s Lathrop Homes is getting a makeover, as developers reveal the new plans for the mega-development that was one of Chicago’s first public housing projects built in 1938, according to Patch.com.

The five-part design team behind the project, the Lathrop Community Partners, revealed the plan this past July, which shows only some of the original historic buildings preserved. The new plan would put new bike lanes and street parking on Clybourn, and retain the look and feel of the old buildings that used to make up Lathrop Homes.

The plans were made in response to more than 200 interviews and several community meetings that tested resident’s reactions to three different proposals, each of which were met with discontent.

“It does respond very directly to the comments and feedback and surveys we got back from you in November, and I think you’re going to like it,” Doug Farr of the Lathrop Community Partners told Patch.com. “We heard that we had three designs, we heard that they were too dense and we have responded.”

In 2012, the development committee proposed to build 1,600 housing units in Lathrop, but now they are hiking up the number to 1,116 units, still 100 less than the land is zoned to allow. Four hundred of those units will be made for public housing, 212 of them will be affordable housing and the remaining 504 units will be sold at market-value rates, Patch.com reports.

What’s more, the plan calls for 752 residential parking spaces, which we all know is necessary in our congested city, and according to Patch, Farr says the team is pursuing 25,000 square feet of new retail storefronts to fill up the development, making it a real, walkable community.

Farr told Patch that all of the new buildings will be between two and eight stories, outside the “Iconic Building” planned for the southern-most tip of the development, its height: not yet decided.

Developers want to keep the historic brown brick exterior on most of the buildings, however, some of the buildings will be totally replaced. Farr told Patch that they will retain 14 of the 17 buildings on the north side of Diversey.

“We also retain almost all the buildings on the both sides of Diversey as you’re driving down,” Farr told Patch.

“That experience, the look and feel you had in 1938, it’s maintained and stays,” he said.

To deal with congestion, new roads will be added at the intersection of Diversey and Clyborn, and another road will be added to Leavitt Street down Damen Avenue.

But while some residents were pleased about the new changes, others yelled from the balconies at a recent community meeting held at New Life Community Church.

Many were concerned about destroying the historical value of the development, others were disconcerted about the 525 units that will be sold at market rate, Patch reports.

The answer CHA representatives gave was that the misplaced housing would be made up elsewhere, and they have to rebuild some of Lathrop because it’s already not functioning appropriately.

The date of construction has not yet been determined, but officials hope to finish the planning process this year and break ground in 2015. Farr told Patch that the Lathrop Community Partners will be back again before anything is finalized in a planned development with the city.

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