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TRP Plans 45 Apartments at 17th and Damen

For community leaders in Pilsen, the vacant lot on the northwest corner of 17th Street and south Damen Avenue has long been a frustrating eyesore.

The former silo yard once served the area’s rail industry, but was long ago abandoned and left to decay, a stark contrast to the attractive, mosaic-covered Orozco Community Academy, which is kitty-corner across Damen.

The building's irregular shape responds to the mixed uses along Damen Avenue and 17th Street.

Rendering courtesy DesignBridge Ltd.

Now, thanks to efforts of neighborhood organizations, public officials and community financial institutions, the lot will be transformed into a 45-unit affordable rental complex to help meet the needs of working-class families struggling to keep pace with rising rents in Pilsen and surrounding communities.

To be named after a state in Mexico, Casa Querétaro will be the latest in a long series of housing developments spearheaded by The Resurrection Project (TRP), which has developed more than 600 units of affordable housing in Chicago neighborhoods since 1990.

LISC Chicago recently approved a $25,000 project initiation loan to support architectural fees and other costs of getting the project out of the ground.

Family housing

Recent TRP projects such as La Casa Student Housing (a student dormitory and resource center) and Casa Maravilla serve university students and senior citizens respectively, but TRP’s bread and butter have always been affordable housing for families. Casa Querétaro is TRP’s latest project. “We want to serve hard working families from the community,” said Guacolda Reyes, TRP’s vice president of real estate development.

TRP organized a competitive architectural bidding process before ultimately deciding on a proposal from Victor Ignacio Dziekiewicz of the Chicago-based firm DesignBridge Ltd.

Responding to the varied architectural nature of the adjacent streetscape, DesignBridge crafted a façade of varying heights to mirror the block’s existing physical scale.

In addition to maximizing natural light, the staggered design allows for a combination of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments as well as a large landscaped common courtyard.

Sensitive design

Reyes said DesignBridge’s sensitivity to the existing streetscape and emphasis on creative use of space helped set its design apart from other entries.

“We didn’t want to do a monster of a building,” she said. “(Dziekiewicz) gave us the feeling he was truly respecting and understanding the nature of the block.”

Casa Queretaro will be a four-story, flat-roofed building with a mixed-masonry façade over a steel frame. Both front and rear entrances will open directly into the lobby, which is located near the west end of the building’s central wing. The rear door will provide direct access to the parking lot. Each apartment will have a kitchen with wood-veneer cabinets, energy-efficient appliances and double-bowl sinks. The first floor will provide laundry and ample community room. There will be an elevator and three staircases.

Work is scheduled to begin early in 2015 and continue for roughly 12 months. Reyes said The Resurrection Project hopes to welcome the first Casa Querétaro residents in early 2016.

Prospective renters are encouraged to contact Oscar Hernandez, TRP’s director of property management, at 312-880-1139 or ohernandez@resurrectionproject.org.

The property was previously used as a silo yard serving the adjacent railroad tracks.

Google Streetmap

Posted in Housing, Lending, Pilsen

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Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.

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