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47th and Cottage Grove Shops and Lofts leverages many subsidies and property arrangements to provide affordable housing as well as retail including an Aldi

47th and Cottage Shops and Lofts project given a new chance at life

Based on Hyde Park Herald, June 2, 2010, By Sam Cholke. A year after being sidelined, a scaled-back Shops and Lofts at 47th and Cottage is being resuscitated. Principal is Frank Petruziello of Skilken co. More than half of the stores are committed, thanks in part to Quad Communities. The Community Builders will develop 72 rental (no longer condo) units that are to be mixed income one- and- two bedroom apartments. A third will be public housing, the majority below market rate and about a quarter market rate.

The property is still owned by the Rands, Everett and Timothy, although the city is negotiating for it- once purchased it will be turned over to the developer. Review process starts next month, with work hoped for early next year. No word as to whether the Booker building might be spared, apparently not.

Hyde Park Herald, December 1, 2010. By Sam Cholke. Project at 47th, Cottage progresses.

The city has signed off on a new Aldi and rental apartments at East 47gh Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue -- a complicated, highly subsidized project that is likely to be the format for future development on Cottage Grove Avenue and nearby areas during the downturn in the real estate market.

"It hinges on the Aldi lease. That is because in this down market, we need 60 percent of the space leased with a national credit occupant," said Frank Petruziello, of Columbus, Ohio-based developer Skilken. According to Petruziello, there are a number of factors at work inside and outside the neighborhood that make local development difficult, particularly fo the Shops and Lofts project. The neighborhood has relatively shallow lots, making it difficult to attract national retailers who are used to dropping a predesigned building on a big open lot. But a retailer with the national reputation is necessary to get creditors on board, according to Petruziello. The housing market in the neighborhood remains flush with vacant condos and unsold units at the Chicago Housing Authority's Plan for Transformation sites. To get traction on a housing project it needs to be rental -- for Shops and Lofts it meant dropping all the condos from the plan and replacing them with a mixture of subsidized and market-rate rental units.

"We have all our ducks in a row to get this closed," Petruziello tod the city's Community Development Commission on Nov. 9. the last of the "ducks" that propelled Shops and Lofts forward while other Cottage Grove Avenue projects still languish is a considerable number of government subsidies.

The city bought the property where until Nov. 19 Pappy's Liquors stood and sold it to the developers for $1, a $1.7 million rebate for the developers. To pay for infrastructure upgrades, the city authorized $8.8 million from the 43rd adn Cottage Grove tax-increment financing district, a pot of the neighborhood's property tax dollars to be used to spur local development.

The rental apartments are also heavily subsidized. The Community Builders, which is in charge of the residential portion of the development, will contribute $2.5 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Progam funds it was awarded by the federal government. When the units open to tenants, 54 of the project's 72 units will have some portion of the rents paid by the government. The Chicago Housing Authority will put up the cash for 24 units and low income tax credits will help fund 30 affordable units.

Even in the booming market of a couple years ago, the project was expected to receive some TIF funding and a deal on the property, but the developers credit the added rent subsidies with getting the project back on course. "Needless to say we were close to bringing this project before (the Community Development Commission) a year ago, then the housing market collapsed," said Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th). Shops and Lofts is one of the final development the alderman will shepherd through the city process before leaving next month to take her new post as president of the Cook County Board.

Petruziello said he sees the immediate future development in the neighborhood as similar to the Shops and Lofts project, focusing on basic community retail that is not well represented in the local market with a complimentary rental-housing component.