People walk and jog along the 606 Trail Thursday, March 23, 2017, in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago.
Three aldermen whose wards straddle the trendy 606 trail proposed Wednesday hitting area developers who don’t maintain affordable housing with high fees.
Ald. Roberto Maldonado, who represents Humboldt Park, said the idea is to slow down soaring housing prices that are pushing longtime residents out of areas once viewed as far less desirable.
“The essence of this ordinance, I would hope, is it would slow down the pace of gentrification, slow down the pace of demolishing and asking for permits to redevelop high-priced homes,” Maldonado, 26th, said.
Also sponsoring the ordinance were Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno, whose 1st ward includes increasingly trendy Wicker Park, and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, whose 35th ward includes Logan Square.
Under the ordinance, developers along the 606 would have the option of making half of their units affordable. That’s defined as units that can be rented for 30 percent of the area’s median income or within financial reach of households with income equal to 60 percent of the area’s median.
If they don’t, they would have to pony up demolition fees ranging from $150,000 per unit in a building with five or more units or $300,000 for a single-family home. On top of that, they would have to pay additional fees to build that would start at $100,000 for a 1,750-square-foot home and climb to $250,000 for a home with more than 2,500 square feet of space.
The fees would be pumped into a trust fund tasked with subsidizing affordable housing projects, loaning money to existing residents for renovation or helping residents pay property taxes. They would apply in an area bounded by West Hirsch Street and West Palmer Street on the south and north, and by Western Avenue and North Kostner Avenue on the east and west.
“If you include affordable housing on your development plans, then these fees would not apply to you,” Maldonado said. “But to the extent that you just want to keep high-priced homes or development, then those high fees would apply.”
Maldonado acknowledged the fees are very high. “You introduce a proposal, and there’s always give and take and negotiation,” he said.