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New zip for Zapata

Better late than never, City Hall is finally getting fully behind the ambitious Zapata Apartments affordable housing development sponsored by NCP’s two Northwest Side lead agencies.

Photo: John McCarron

LSNA Housing committe co-chair Lissette Castenada (at podium) vows to fight on for Zapata Apartments and is backed by (from left) her co-chair Daniel LaSpata, Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) and Senator Iris Martinez

That news, which surfaced June 8 at a press conference sponsored by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA), will be welcomed by at least 3,123 people. That’s how many signatures LSNA and its local partners collected in support of Zapata, which is being opposed by a small but vocal group of residents, calling themselves ANTS, who live near Armitage and Kedzie avenues.


(UPDATE: Zoning Committee approves Zapata on August 31. Read the story on the new Humboldt Park Portal.)

 "If the ANTS organization exists, definitely they don't live in the 26th Ward," declared Ald. Roberto Maldanado (26th) at a rally-style press conference held at Funston School, 3616 W. Armitage Ave., near the proposed new housing.

“The Zapata project is not the problem,” Maldonado said to the mostly Hispanic crowd gathered in the school library. “The problem is among some of the people that don’t want us here.”

A more detailed history of the Zapata project can be found at target="_blank"

City support

The alderman then announced, to cheers, that the city, its Department of Community Development, the Department of Zoning, and importantly, his fellow Ald. Rey Colon (35th) “have made it very clear they want the Zapata project to become a reality.”

Photo: John McCarron

State Senator Iris Martinez promised to "work the governor" for state aid to Zapata Apartments.

As evidence he noted the city’s zoning administrator, who initially cautioned against an up-zoning for Zapata as too dense for the area, has since toured the four housing sites and concluded that the 66 apartments now proposed will be acceptable under a soon-to-be-revised zoning package.

 That’s important because ANTS has filed a lawsuit against the city claiming the project is too dense … noting that even the city’s zoning chief once said so. Public hearings will be held this summer on that upcoming zoning revision.

Expediting the process is vital to LSNA’s partner on the project, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp., which is acting as developer, owns the land, and gets billed for $14,000 in carrying costs for every month of delay.

Potential snags

Two other low hurdles remain besides the lawsuit, Maldonado said.

First, one of the four building sites is not located within the local tax increment financing (TIF) district that will help subsidize the development. Maldonado said it would cost Bickerdike up to $150,000 in legal and notification costs to amend the district’s boundaries, so other types of subsidies will be needed on that site.

Photo: John McCarron

Cameras whirr during the June 8 press conference at Funston School, 3616 W. Armitage Ave.

Secondly, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) has yet to assign the federal low-income housing tax credits needed to secure permanent mortgage financing.

State Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) said she is “working the governor” on the tax credits, and like Maldonado, had a few things to say about the ANTS protest.

 “How can people honestly say they’re OK with the two vacant lots sitting there?” she said of the fenced-off parcels than look like missing teeth along bustling Armitage. “How can that be OK with them?”

Martinez said the ground floor storefronts are needed and predicted that, because of the foreclosure crisis, there will be a waiting list of families seeking to rent affordably at Zapata.

3,123 took pledge

Lissette Castenada and Daniel LaSpata, co-chairs of LSNA’s housing committee, presented the officials with large black binders. They contained the signatures of 3,123 local residents who signed The Zapata Pledge: “We affirm that working-class families deserve decent and affordable homes. We support construction of the Zapata Apartments as soon as possible …”

The rendering above shows the proposed building at 3228 W. Armitage, while the rendering below shows the proposed building at 3431 W. Armitage.

“Housing is not a privilege for a few but a right for everyone,” concluded Castaneda. “And there are 3,123 people—at least—that agree with us. We’re going to keep pushing, keep going, and see that the Zapata Apartments are built.”

For more information: John McDermott, LSNA, 773-384-4370 x38

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