CHICAGO-Saying there is a crying need for affordable housing for senior citizens is not an understatement, at least according to 32nd Ward Alderman Theodore Matlak. It is a reality.

Older constituents regularly visit his North Side office, some tearfully, saying they are being priced out of their rental units. That is one reason why he welcomes Renaissance St. Luke LP’s $12.5-million proposal to build 91 rental units on a 1.1-acre city-owned parking lot at the southwest corner of Belmont and Greenview avenues, a block east of a revived retail district and in a Lakeview community that continues to see multifamily redevelopment.

The seven-story building includes 75% of the units available to those earning less than $31,680 per year. Rents for the affordable units will run $655 for studios, $779 for one-bedroom units and $933 for two-bedroom units. That compares to market rates of $800 for studios, $1,150 for one-bedroom units and $1,650 for two-bedroom units.

Renaissance St. Luke LP is a partnership between RRG Development, Inc., and Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Luke pastor Rev. David Abrahamson, who pitched the project to Matlak. Matlak was familiar with RRG Development’s 13-year track record in the city.

Financing for the project will come in multiple layers, explains RRG Development president Nancy J. Kapp. They include low-income housing tax credits, tax credits sold by the Chicago Equity Fund, “gap” financing from the city’s department of housing, the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s low-income housing trust fund, the Federal Home Loan Bank and money from the state’s housing tax credit program.

Not everyone in the community is satisfied, however. The seven-story height of the proposed building will dwarf surrounding structures, critics note. Some business owners lament the potential loss of 27 parking spaces, which could drive customers away from their Belmont Avenue storefronts.

“The opportunity to create housing for senior citizens far outweighs the loss of a few parking spaces,” says plan commission member Leon Finney.

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