Chicago gets HUD-backed project conversion

Philip Langdon
New Urban Network

The US Department of Housing & Urban Development has chosen Grove Parc Plaza Apartments in the Woodlawn section of Chicago to be the target of HUD's first Choice Neighborhoods Intiative grant.

The $30.5 million award will be used to help finance demolition of the project—which has had 504 units, all subsidized through Section 8—and its reconstruction as a mixed-income, mixed-use development. It's hoped that the rebuilt development, to be called Woodlawn Park, will be an anchor for revitalization of the neighborhood. 

The winner of the grant—a national nonprofit group, Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH)—expects to leverage the $30.5 million into $272 million of total development over the next three years.

POAH won the grant in a competitive process in which more than 64 other applicants vied for funding. POAH enlisted a variety of other partners to put together the comprehensive approach and financial ‘match required by HUD. The critical "first partner" in the application is the City of Chicago, which will work with POAH in land acquisition, financing, planning, and other activities.

Though the existing apartments will be razed, subsidies will guarantee that an equal number of affordable units are made available on site or in mixed-income settings nearby. The plan calls for 420 "green" housing units on site, plus 95,000 square feet of retail and community space. It also calls for direct investment in existing multifamily housing in Woodlawn, including foreclosed and abandoned properties (through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and other programs). HUD said this will result in renovation or construction of 575 mixed-income dwellings off-site.

The initiative is also aimed at providing new parks and green space, transportation infrastructure, and a recreational facility. The Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community (WCPC), in conjunction with the Urban Education Institute, has designed a comprehensive initiative to improve education for Woodlawn children, from early childhood through college. WCPC,  20th Ward Alderman Willie Cochran, and Woodlawn NCP (New Communities Program) were among those helping POAH to win the grant.