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Evergreen Creates Affordable Housing and Library Offerings Under One Roof

In 2019, Evergreen Real Estate Group brought the collective convenience of two libraries and 88 combined affordable homes to the Chicago community with the completion of Independence and Northtown Apartments. Among the first of their kind in the nation, as well as the result of a design competition initiated by the Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Mayor, and the Chicago Public Library, Evergreen offers communities for seniors to live and learn.

“We are proud to partner with Evergreen Real Estate Group on both the Independence and Northtown Apartments,” said Adam Lavelle, VP, Acquisitions. “It is critical that members of the affordable housing arena continue to develop creative housing solutions that illustrate the impact and value affordable housing can provide to communities. The opening of these two properties is the celebration of the many individuals who invested significant time, effort, and vision into making affordable housing a reality.”

Independence Apartments

Photography by James Florio

When a fire brought down Chicago’s Irving Park neighborhood library, residents were saddened in its absence. However, the addition of Independence Apartments reestablished the presence of a local library, and much more. As part of the revitalization of the surrounding area, Independence Apartments serves seniors 62+ with sustainable, accessible, and distinctive living.

While making way for Independence Apartments, development architect John Ronan recalled a moment during demolition where existing units and the many different wallpapers within each unit could be seen. With that image in mind, Ronan made the decision to design staggered balconies so that each would have their own color in an effort to “get away from the cookie-cutter nature of social housing1,” and offer residents the opportunity to identify their home from the outside in.

Beyond residential amenities and services, Independence Apartments also provides the community with early learning amenities that focus on literacy and technology skills, as well as a program for adults to help with basic computer proficiency, resume writing, and interview prep.

Development Awards

  1. Project of the Year Award – Library Building / AIA Chicago, 2020

  2. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design / LISC Chicago, 2020

  3. Merit Award, Residential/Hospitality / Chicago Building Congress, 2020

  4. Best Office/Retail/Mixed-Use Project of the Year Award Winner / Engineering News-Record

Northtown Apartments

Photography by James Steinkamp

Under the vision of Perkins&Will, Evergreen embarked upon Northtown Apartments and established the presence of a local library within Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood.

“West Ridge is one of Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods in terms of income, ethnicity, race, religion and age,” Perkins&Will. “Residents enjoy a tapestry of cultures and ideas, but, as demographics change, many local seniors found fewer and fewer housing options they could afford.”

By combining the programming, activities, and resources of a library with the addition of 44 affordable senior homes, Northtown is able to serve both residents and surrounding community members. The building’s innovative construct displays a vibrant mural by local artist Chris Silva along one of its lobby walls, as well as floor to ceiling views of a neighboring park. Improved access to public transportation, significant sustainability features, and community spaces for residents to socialize are among some of the development offerings.

Development Awards

  1. Design Excellence Awards, Interior Architecture Merit Award / AIA Chicago, 2020

  2. Best of Year Winner, Greater Good: Social Impact / Interior Design Magazine, 2020

  3. Merit Award, Residential/Hospitality / Chicago Building Congress, 2020

  4. Spaces, Places and Cities Category Finalist  /  2019 Fast Company World Changing Ideas Award

  5. Unbuilt Civic Finalist / WAF, 2018

“Independence and Northtown are remarkable examples of the tangible and intangible benefits that can be achieved through public/private housing initiatives,” said Charles Anderson, Co-President. “These outcomes are critical to changing the narrative around the stigma that is so often correlated with affordable housing.”

In addition to RAD LIHTC equity provided by Fifth Third Bank, CIBC and TCF Bank, Independence and Northtown received financing through a $12.8MM and $11MM construction loans, respectively, from CIBC, as well as and two loans each from Chicago Housing Authority totaling $12.8MM and $11.9MM. Northtown received an additional $3MM HOME Loan.

1. Minutillo, Josephine. “Independence Library and Apartments by John Ronan Architects.” Architectural Record RSS, Architectural Record, 23 Oct. 2019,


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