Press Releases

Mayor Emanuel and city officials break ground on innovative branch library projects

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was joined today by Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and Chicago Public Library (CPL) to announce the beginning of construction on three innovative co-located housing and library developments being built across the city. City and elected officials joined community residents and development partners to break ground on the new Taylor Street Apartments and Roosevelt Branch Library, with construction also getting underway at two co-located developments in the West Ridge and Irving Park communities. Mayor Emanuel announced that plans will continue for two additional CPL branches using creative interagency partnerships – one in the CHA’s Altgeld Gardens community and a new branch in the West Loop to serve its rapidly growing community.

“When we unite the strengths of our neighborhood libraries with great housing that is affordable and accessible, it is truly the best of both worlds,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Chicago is breaking the mold of what world-class libraries and housing can look like, and staying at the cutting edge of creating shared spaces that bring communities together.”

The housing and library developments were designed by three of the city’s top architecture and design firms which were selected following a design competition sponsored by the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development. The competition was part of Mayor Emanuel’s vision to bring world-class design to Chicago neighborhoods and break from the standard, cookie-cutter designs that are common to government buildings. All three architecture firms selected have strong Chicago roots and have won awards for design excellence and innovation.

“These projects represent a creative solution to new challenges,” said Lynn Osmond, President and CEO of Chicago Architecture Foundation. “Here in Chicago, we’ve already seen success with the introduction of a similar innovation: transit-oriented-developments that place new housing adjacent to public transportation. These projects are examples of how Chicago keeps its focus on the future by continually re-thinking old assumptions and coming up with new design solutions that help us build a better city.”

“The Chicago Housing Authority is focused on providing housing and other opportunities that enhance the lives of our residents while helping to build strong, vibrant neighborhoods. Under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, this innovative partnership with Chicago Public Library will provide residents of all ages with quality housing options and a community anchor of world-class design that will serve them for years to come,” said CHA CEO Eugene Jones, Jr. “These developments also demonstrate that we are keeping our promise to continue the development at our mixedincome sites and to bring CHA investment to new communities.”

The three co-located developments include the Taylor Street Apartments and Roosevelt Branch Library at 1342 W. Taylor Street on the Near West Side, the Independence Apartments and Independence Branch at 4022 W. Irving Park Road in Irving Park and the Northtown Apartments and Northtown Branch at 6800 N. Western Avenue in West Ridge.

“Libraries serve as community anchors, making knowledge and learning accessible for everyone,” said CPL Commissioner Brian Bannon. “The new co-located libraries will help to sustain strong neighborhoods, and provide a place for all community residents to gather, share and succeed.”

The Taylor Street Apartments and Roosevelt Branch Library continue the redevelopment of the Roosevelt Square mixed-income community and bring a total of 73 apartments, including 37 CHA units, 29 affordable units and seven market rate units; it is being developed by Related Midwest. The Taylor Street Apartments and Roosevelt Branch Library were designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM).

“This project bringing together housing with a neighborhood library will be paramount for our community,” said Alderman Jason Ervin, 28th Ward. “This investment shows our residents that no matter what your income is or what neighborhood you live in, if you call Chicago home you should have a range of housing options to choose from.”

Both the Independence and Northtown apartments will each provide a total of 44 senior apartments, including 30 public housing and 14 affordable apartments at each site. The projects are being developed by Evergreen Real Estate Group. Independence Apartments and Branch Library was designed by John Ronan Architects and Northtown Apartments and Branch Library was designed by Perkins+Will.

“This partnership is an example of how we can bring housing and learning opportunities for some of our most storied residents,” said Alderman Margaret Laurino, 39th Ward. “This is a proud example of how city officials come together with residents and partners to work together toward a common goal and bring positive changes to our city.”

“We are excited to bring this new development to our vibrant community,” said Alderman Debra L. Silverstein, 50th Ward. “This is an incredibly unique project that will provide complementary services and amenities for our senior residents.” As part of his commitment to bring modern libraries to all Chicago communities, Mayor Emanuel also announced that plans continue for the construction of a new CPL branch library in CHA’s Altgeld Gardens community. The library, to be designed by KOO, an architecture, interiors and urban design firm, will be part of a new 40,000 square foot community resource center to serve residents of the Far South Side neighborhood.

“A library branch in Altgeld Gardens will give our residents an important community anchor to access 21st century resources,” said Alderman Anthony Beale, 9th Ward. “This partnership better positions residents to build a strong foundation for the future.”

Additionally, an 11,600-square-foot former office building will be donated to the City and repurposed as a new branch located in the West Loop, building on the City’s efforts to provide residents in every neighborhood access to high quality, modern library facilities.

Under the plan the Sterling Bay Cos. will donate the two-story structure at 118-22 N. Aberdeen St. and work with CPL to build the new library facility which will be designed by SOM, who also designed the award-winning Chinatown Branch. This new branch will feature adult and children’s materials, meeting and computer rooms on the first level, and CPL’s regional offices on the second floor.

“West Loop residents welcome the addition of a library to the community as rapid development continues,” said Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr., 27th Ward. “We look forward to this new resource and tapping into the innovative programs CPL provides to residents across the city.”

Each branch will offer programs and services that meet the residents they serve. The new branches will offer computer classes and one-on-one coaching from CyberNavigators to build digital literacy and technology skills for adults and seniors. Staff will be trained to connect job-seekers to best-inclass career services provided by workforce development organizations and educational institutions. CPL will continue to partner with expert workforce organizations to deliver trainings on additional skills, such as resume writing, interview prep and industry-specific skills. Children and families will access early childhood learning spaces, the Teacher in the Library program and the YOUmedia program, which provides teens with access to technology, resources, and classes that inspire exploration, creativity and learning. Traditional library programs, such as book clubs for seniors and intergenerational educational and cultural programming will also be available.

“Under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, Chicago’s innovative new libraries are not only beacons of design excellence but these projects demonstrate how public libraries can also be transformative community anchors,” said Barbara Macikas, Executive Director of the Public Library Association. “The Public Library Association is excited to see this model move forward in Chicago and supports the work public libraries do nationally to bring this type of creativity and collaboration to their neighborhoods.”

Over the past six years, Chicago Public Library has witnessed one of the largest capital investments in recent history. Through City investment and innovative partnerships, the Library has seen over $200 million of new capital projects and investments in the people and programs that activate our community anchors. By the end of 2018, we will have 11 new library buildings and 14 additional locations with major renovations and expansions. Embedded in these locations and other locations citywide is our innovative way to serve children and teens. CPL will have added new early learning play spaces at 28 locations and new teen spaces at 19 locations.


About Chicago Public Library:
Since 1873, Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through innovative services and programs, as well as cutting-edge technology. Through its 80 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits and programs for children, teens and adults. CPL received the Social Innovator Award from Chicago Innovation Awards; won a National Medal for Library Services from the Institute for Museum and Library Services; was named the first ever winner of the National Summer Learning Association’s Founder’s Award in recognition of its Summer Learning Challenge; and was ranked number one in the U.S., and third in the world by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany. For more information, please call (312) 747-4050 or visit To follow CPL on social media, visit us on Twitter (@chipublib) or Facebook (Chicago Public Library).

About Chicago Housing Authority:
Under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) helps build vibrant communities across the city. By using housing as a platform, the agency works with a host of key stakeholders to sustain strong neighborhoods to best prepare CHA residents for the global economy on their road toward self-sufficiency. CHA also provides stable, decent, safe and affordable housing to more than 62,000 low-income families and individuals, while supporting healthy communities in neighborhoods throughout Chicago.