(To read more on the multifamily market, click here.)

CHICAGO-A group that includes a company chaired by former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros plans to build 387 multifamily units on 6.3 acres in a Pilsen community wary of gentrification. The plan commission endorsed the $125-million project by a limited liability corporation that also includes giant private builder Kimball Hill Homes.

Four condominium buildings containing 286 units, 14 townhouses and 87 units in three-, six- and 12-flat buildings will replace warehouses occupied by a melon wholesaler, vacant warehouses and an area used by a construction company for staging. Most units will range from $270,000 to more than $600,000, 18th and Peoria LLC president William Purcell tells GlobeSt.com. However, his group is voluntarily earmarking 82 units–21% of the total–for buyers qualifying under the city’s affordable housing initiative. The decision was voluntary as the developers, 18th and Peoria LLC, are not seeking city financial assistance or density bonuses. Those units would range from $151,000 to $215,000, prices not considered affordable by grassroots activists opposing the project who point to a median income in the area of $27,000.

Pilsen has been considered a “port of entry” for immigrants seeking low-cost rental housing, opponents claim. However, low rents as well as low property taxes are likely to go by the wayside with a large project gentrifying the neighborhood.

An aide for 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis, as well as an official with a local community development corporation, say attempts have been made for eight years to spur industrial users to the site. However, there has been no interest, they say, as the site is now surrounded by residential development.

The newest development would generate $15 million in property taxes during the next 15 years, according to the developers. “I see it as a very attractive addition to any community,” says 50th Ward Alderman Bernard Stone, who represents West Rogers Park.

Meanwhile, Fred Deters of the department of planning and development notes the 600,000-sf project is 27% smaller than what could be built under current zoning. The current B2-3 zoning also would permit 745 units.

The partnership, which also includes Mota Construction, has acquired a portion of the development site for $5.2 million, according to property records.

Although supporters claim the presence of Cisneros’ CityView in the project adds credibility, he left President Bill Clinton’s cabinet and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of lying to the FBI about payments to a former mistress. He paid a $10,000 fine, but was pardoned by Clinton in 2001.

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