Fifth City Commons
Fifth City Commons is a new-construction affordable housing development in the East Garfield Park neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side that will include 43 apartments built to Passive House standards. Over four years in the making, it was part of the C40 Reinventing Competition for Cities – that encouraged cities across the globe to offer vacant land for sustainable and net-zero development. The development sits at the gateway to a part of Garfield Park called Fifth City and was named after this geography through a community-driven process, and in honor of the community development organization active in the neighborhood starting in the 1960s whose message and legacy still resonates today.
When POAH was selected following a competitive RFP, the nonprofit affordable housing developer set out to do extensive outreach and engagement about the project, a goal complicated by the pandemic, but achieved through a mix of an online platform, virtual meetings, cable TV and masked in-person meetings that generated ideas from hundreds of community members. Several people signed onto committees to provide ongoing feedback into design, retail leasing and the extensive public art planned for the property. POAH is working with a potential retail tenant to meet the community’s preference for Black-owned and food-based businesses.
The first of the two phases will comprise a three-story building that will be Passive House-certified and include 43 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, two community rooms, a resident terrace and fitness room, three laundry rooms and on-site management offices. The property also will have robust onsite stormwater retention and mature landscaping, EV charging stations, extensive bike parking, and on-site composting as part of its green goals. The building will serve families with incomes from 30% AMI (area median income) to 80% AMI. Over two-thirds of the building’s electric load will be offset by rooftop solar panels, and residents’ meters will be further offset by off-site community solar. A second phase is in planning and will include approximately 30 units for affordable shared ownership.
The City of Chicago provided the bulk of the financing for the development in the form of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and HOME investment Partnership Program (HOME) assistance, sales tax bonds, 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and tax-exempt bonds. The LIHTC and renewable energy credit syndicator is Enterprise Community Investments. The construction lender is BMO Harris. Other financing will be provided by ComEd, SPARCC (Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge) and Illinois Solar for All.
Located blocks from both the Green Line and the Blue Line Kedzie train stations in the busy Kedzie corridor, Fifth City Commons is a transit-oriented development across the street from the storied Marshall Metropolitan High School,is close to municipal satellite offices and a Chicago Transit Authority bus garage. This area contains multiple lots that have been sitting vacant for decades, and POAH is proud to knit part of the fabric of the neighborhood back together in partnership with many invested stakeholders.
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- Perkins + Will
- Nia Architects
- Skender Construction
- Terra Engineering
- Omni Ecosystems