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Logan Square: Affordable-housing fight has only just begun

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A nonprofit group that wants to build more than 70 affordable homes in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood says it’s going a long way to satisfy the plan’s opponents. But from talking to some of those opponents for yesterday’s WBEZ story about the project, it doesn’t look like Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation has gone far enough -- or that it could, without dropping the project altogether. For years Bickerdike pushed for the Zapata Apartments to consist of four buildings on scattered parcels. Now Bickerdike has eliminated a three-flat from the plan. On that lot, 3503 W. Armitage Ave., the group is promising to maintain green space. Bickerdike has also re-bid the construction to reduce costs. And it’s offering to sign a “restrictive covenant" that would limit the construction to city-approved architectural plans, forgoing possibilities allowed by some zoning changes. So far, Bickerdike’s adjustments haven’t quelled a revolt against Zapata by some Logan Square homeowners who call themselves Armitage Neighbors Together. ANT is pressing forward with a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court that challenges two zoning changes for the project. “Zapata is too big, too dense and too expensive," ANT President Zachary Abel says. ANT’s attorney, Thomas Ramsdell, tells me he’s eager to file more suits against the project. He says one would challenge any tax-increment financing. Ramsdell hastens to remind me he was the lead counsel for a suit against a TIF scheme for redeveloping a former North Side bus-repair facility known as Wilson Yard. Bickerdike is counting on a TIF allocation. The group says it would help keep Zapata’s rents affordable. A nonprofit group that wants to build more than 70 affordable homes in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood says it’s going a long way to satisfy the plan’s opponents. But from talking to some of those opponents for yesterday’s WBEZ story about the project, it doesn’t look like Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation has gone far enough -- or that it could, without dropping the project altogether.

For years Bickerdike and the Logan Square Neighborhood Association pushed for the Zapata Apartments to consist of four buildings on scattered parcels. Now Bickerdike has eliminated a three-flat from the plan. On that lot, 3503 W. Armitage Ave., the group is promising to maintain green space. Bickerdike has also re-bid the construction to reduce costs. And it’s offering to sign a “restrictive covenant" that would limit the construction to city-approved architectural plans, forgoing possibilities allowed by some zoning changes.

So far, Bickerdike’s adjustments haven’t quelled a revolt against Zapata by Logan Square homeowners who call themselves Armitage Neighbors Together. ANT is pressing forward with a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court that challenges two zoning changes for the project. “Zapata is too big, too dense and too expensive," ANT President Zachary Abel says.

ANT’s attorney, Thomas Ramsdell, tells me he’s eager to file more suits against the project. He says one would challenge any tax-increment financing. Ramsdell hastens to remind me he was the lead counsel for a suit against a TIF scheme for redeveloping a former North Side bus-repair facility known as Wilson Yard.

Bickerdike is counting on a TIF allocation. The group says it would help keep Zapata’s rents affordable.

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