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Related Midwest Readies Debut Of Renovated Lathrop Homes

Lathrop Homes tenant leader Juanita Stevenson

A late afternoon rainstorm Tuesday didn't stop developers, neighborhood residents and political figures from celebrating the end of Phase 1 in the redevelopment of the Julia C. Lathrop Homes, a Chicago Housing Authority community that originally had more than 900 units. 

Related Midwest, the master developer, will open 414 new and rehabbed apartments this year on Lathrop's northern side, mostly along the North Branch of the Chicago River, or surrounding the community's Great Lawn, designed in the 1930s by renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen.  

"We dreamed this dream a very long time, and now the day is finally here," resident and Lathrop Homes Local Advisory Council President Juanita Stevenson said. 

When Related and its partners, which include nonprofit affordable housing developer Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp., finish with Phase 4, the new Lathrop will have 1,116 residences, with 484 market-rate units, 222 for families that meet affordable housing guidelines and 400 for CHA households.

"Every resident of Lathrop will have the same finishes and access to amenities, and that's the way it should be," Illinois Housing Development Authority Director Andrew DeCoux said.  

Julia C. Lathrop Homes

Lathrop Homes is an unusual CHA development in several ways. Not only is it the only large CHA community on the Northwest Side, but its fine architectural detail, along with Jensen's Great Lawn, landed it on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. 

Those qualities, along with its setting along the river in a gentrifying area, make it likely market-rate renters will flock to the site, hopefully fulfilling the agency's vision of a mixed-income community.  

Related Midwest also created a riverwalk, a dock and kayak launch, a riverfront dog park, other outdoor gathering spaces and a new neighborhood café in the community's former administration building.  

It remains to be seen how leasing up the development will play out over the next few years. Creating a plan for Lathrop touched off controversy, as local political leaders, resident groups and housing advocates, including the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, battled the city and developers over how many units would be reserved for CHA residents.

The current plan was largely hammered out by 2016, and yesterday at least, the old battles were forgotten.

"At one point, I was against the renovation of Lathrop," 35-year resident Nivea Sandoval said.

But things changed when she saw what was in store.

"I love my apartment."