Related Midwest, Heartland Housing, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation and Chicago Housing Authority Celebrate the Grand Opening of Lathrop

CHICAGO, IL - On Tuesday, Oct. 15, developer Related Midwest, along with partners Heartland Housing, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation and the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), hosted a grand opening celebration for Lathrop: a revitalized, mixed-income rental community situated on 34 acres along the Chicago River’s North Branch. Nestled between the Bucktown and Roscoe Village neighborhoods, the renovated development now includes market rate, affordable and subsidized public housing, along with 5 acres of public green space and a reimagined riverfront.

“Related is proud of our long history of successfully preserving and developing affordable and mixed-income communities that serve the needs of all residents and the neighborhood,” said Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest. “For Lathrop, we worked closely with our partners to revitalize and reimagine a historic riverfront community rooted in a rich cultural past. Through the Lathrop Partners public-private partnership, we have brought to life the first phase of a vibrant mixed-income community that everyone can call home.”

“What we celebrate today is an example of CHA’s longstanding commitment to Lathrop residents and to bring more mixed-income housing to neighborhoods across our city,” said James L. Bebley, acting CEO for the CHA. “None of this would have been possible without the support of the residents and the many partners who have helped move the vision of a renewed Lathrop forward. It is thanks to the strong partnerships we have built that the revitalized Lathrop is possible.”

Community groups, residents and neighbors joined 1st Ward Ald. Daniel La Spata and the Lathrop development partners on Tuesday evening for a ribbon-cutting and community event. With the park as a backdrop, guests attended a grand opening celebration that included a children’s balloon artist, autumn-themed snacks, music, face painting, food trucks, and tours of the model residences. The Lathrop Woodshop Collective, a grassroots group of artisans who repurpose wood from trees felled by the development, offered guests the opportunity to brand their own piece of Lathrop wood. Friends of the Chicago River facilitated paddling activities for residents – an exciting program that the organization has periodically provided throughout the year. The organization also helped curate content for signs along the riverwalk regarding fish and bird species.

Drawing on its extensive experience in the affordable housing sector, Related and its partners are leading the multi-year, multi-phase revitalization of Lathrop, one of Chicago’s largest and most architecturally significant New Deal-era housing projects. Phase one apartments have opened; when all phases are complete, Lathrop will comprise a total of 1,116 residences, with 494 units leased at market rates, 222 offered to working families that meet affordable housing guidelines, and 400 reserved for CHA households.

“Heartland Housing believes that society is better for everyone when all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential,” said Michael Goldberg, executive director of Heartland Housing. “The very namesake of this development, Julia C. Lathrop, was a pioneer in social services and civil rights in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her work helped shed light on the struggles and needs of everyday people. The core values of providing equity and opportunity for all are rooted within this very campus.”

“It is not only through the collaborative work of our partners, but more importantly, the engagement of residents and community members, that Lathrop serves as a model of how a successful mixed-income community can be built and thrive to serve as a place that many Chicagoans can call home,” said Joy Aruguete, CEO of Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation.

The flagship amenity at Lathrop is the 5-acre riverfront park, reimagined by award-winning landscape architectural firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), creator of Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park, The 606 trail and Bennett Park. Incorporating inspiration from the original landscaping plan created by Jens Jensen, the reimagined outdoor spaces include Lathrop’s iconic Great Lawn - a 2-acre green space at the heart of the community that provides a pedestrian connection between Clybourn Avenue and the riverfront. Other improvements include a quarter-mile pedestrian riverwalk with native plantings, pathways, bridges, and a dock with kayak launch; an updated Elizabeth Wood Park with a new playlot; and a new riverfront dog park.

“While Lathrop’s original design from 1938 turned its back on the Chicago River, the new park embraces our revitalized river with a beautifully designed riverwalk, boat launch and gathering spaces,” said Bailey. “We look forward to the community enjoying these 5 acres of waterfront recreational green space for many decades to come.”

"It's great to see the Chicago River appreciated as a natural and cultural resource and Friends is thrilled that this improved access will help people better understand and value this wonderful waterway,” said Margaret Frisbie, executive director for Friends of the Chicago River. “The Lathrop efforts along the river provide an amenity that the Lathrop community can enjoy and must protect."

Along with the park, the development’s first phase entailed the rehabilitation of 16 historic buildings, all located north of Diversey Parkway, which today house 355 renovated mixed-income residences, a leasing office and a neighborhood cafe, along with the renovation of the 5-acre public park and riverwalk. This scope of work was led by HED and JGMA, and the first renovated residences were reopened in fall 2018. Additional phase one improvements included the construction of a new six-story, 59-unit residential building designed by bKL Architecture and located at 2737 N. Hoyne Ave.

All studio, one- and two-bedroom residences feature the same level of finishes, which include plank flooring; custom windows crafted to be consistent with the original style; modern kitchens with quartz countertops and stainless-steel appliances; and in-unit laundry. Residents also have access to amenities such as reservable makerspaces, valet garbage pick-up and on-site storage.

On-site retail is an additional component of Lathrop’s first phase, and Hexe Coffee Co. opened a café in September at the corner of Diversey Parkway and Clybourn Avenue, becoming the community’s first retail tenant. Located in the restored administration building, the Hexe café will feature its barrel-aged specialty coffee, along with local baked goods, sandwiches, charcuterie, craft beers, wine and cocktails. A roastery and wholesaler of specialty and barrel-aged coffees found in restaurants across the city, Hexe’s Lathrop location is the company’s first brick-and-mortar storefront.

“We are excited to bring our passion for making barrel-aged coffee, aged in bourbon barrels from Chicago-based distiller FEW, to this café in the heart of Lathrop,” said Parker Slade, owner of Hexe Coffee Co. “We’ve not only found an ideal location for our first storefront, but created a special place for gathering with neighbors, friends and coworkers. We look forward to hosting community events and serving this neighborhood for many years.”

Click here to access community, park and event photos, drone video footage, and a fact sheet on Lathrop residences and park, via Dropbox. For more information about living at Lathrop www.lathropchicago.com, visit the leasing office located at 2000 W. Diversey Pkwy. or call (773) 676-2222.

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