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CHICAGO-The future of Wilson Yards looks too much like a vestige of the city’s since-razed high-rise public housing projects, opponents say. Holsten Real Estate Development Corp. hopes to build 178 affordable rental units in two buildings, one earmarked for senior citizens and the other for families, as part of the $113-million redevelopment of the 5.7-acre site at Montrose Avenue and Broadway Street.

Developer Peter Holsten won an endorsement Thursday to increase the number of units in his project from 150, but by a rare 6-2 vote by the plan commission. The city’s tax increment financing also is expected to jump from $26.5 million to $35.5 million.

“I think this is exactly the right type of project for tax increment financing,” says plan commission member Nancy A. Pacher, the only member to vote against Holsten’s earlier plan in December 2004. “But I do not think you should concentrate poverty, whether it be elderly or otherwise.”

Doris B. Holleb joined Pacher, chief operating officer for US Equities Realty, in voting against Holsten’s latest plan. “Things I’ve fought for all my life are in conflict here,” says Holleb, a proponent of transit-oriented developments and affordable housing. “This project does not belong in a concentrated area. We’re putting more housing in the wrong place.”

Families in the 78-unit building with one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments will earn no more than 80% of the area median income. While 16 units will be earmarked for families earning up to 80% of the area median income, 44 units would be occupied by families earning up to 50% of area median income 18 units slated for families earning up to 30% of area median income. Seniors in the 100 one-bedroom units will earn up to 60% of area median income.

Opponents from the Uptown community, which has been divided over the issue of affordable housing, say Holsten’s plan will create a “140-foot wall of housing” at the key intersection. They also claim Uptown already is home to 6,000 units of subsidized housing.

“Every community feels they’re a victim,” says 50th Ward Alderman Bernard Stone. “We need these apartments for seniors.”

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