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May 20, 2016

Affordable Housing Planned for Green Line Stop

Woodlawn Station, a four-story building slated for construction on the northeast corner of East 63rd Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue, will bring 70 units of mixed-income housing and 15,000 square feet of retail space to the busy Woodlawn intersection. Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), a non-profit developer, aims to break ground this fall.

Set to overlook the Cottage Grove Green Line stop, Woodlawn Station will qualify as a transit-oriented development (TOD). By virtue of their proximity to public transportation, TODs reduce the need for residential developers to provide parking, thus promoting demographically dense, walkable neighborhoods.

A recent Chicago Tribune article reported that the city has over two dozen recently completed and in-the-pipeline TOD projects. Most are upscale developments clustered in North Side neighborhoods along the Blue and Brown Lines. However, half of Woodlawn Station’s units will be low-income apartments. The other half will be a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments.

Bill Eager, Vice President of POAH’s Chicago office and alumnus of the Harris School of Public Policy, said POAH approaches its Woodlawn projects with a community-centric lens. Its existing Woodlawn developments, including four recently completed housing developments on South Cottage Grove Avenue, offer a wide range of rental units as well as senior housing.

“[POAH] has an obligation to provide affordable housing, but also to supplement it with mixed-income housing. This combination is a springboard for the community’s revitalization,” Eager said.

This obligation stems from the site’s history. Since 2008, POAH has been working to replace Grove Parc Plaza, a dilapidated low-income housing complex on South Cottage Grove Avenue between 60th and 63rd Streets, with new mixed-income developments. The last section of the 504-unit Grove Parc complex was demolished in 2014. Woodlawn Station will be built on a vacant lot.

Today, 266 low-income units are scattered among POAH’s buildings between 61st and 63rd Street. POAH aims to deliver a total of 378 low-income units to the area, meaning that Woodlawn Station likely will not be the last project to spring up along Cottage Grove.

While Woodlawn Station, designed by Nia Architects, will differ from previous POAH projects in its orientation toward the Green Line, Eager emphasized the bigger picture: “Woodlawn Station is not just a housing project, but is part of a broader multi-year, multi-phase effort to revive the local economy.”

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