Affordable housing and the NIMBY opposition have a history: The story of Logan Square’s Zapata apartments.

Logan Square’s affordable Zapata apartments took  years to get past the NIMBY opposition.

The Emmett Street parking lot, owned by the city of Chicago, sits in the heart of Logan Square right next to the Logan Square CTA station.

Most days a couple dozen cars are parked in the lot that can accommodate three or four times that number.

Yesterday, Palm Sunday, the parking lot was full because we were rallying in support of affordable housing.

The Logan Square Ecumenical Alliance was holding a Palm Sunday witness for affordable housing in support of a project planned for the land where the parking lot currently sits.

Like others attending Occupy Palm Sunday, Anne and I would have walked to the event. A freezing cold wind and five inches of snow from a Spring snow storm caused us to drive instead and park in the Emmet lot.



The Emmett Street project is backed by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association and Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, a non-profit that has brought affordable housing to the north west side since 1967.

There is NIMBY (Not in my back yard) opposition in the gentrified Logan Square community.

These opponents have now formed a group to block the project, calling themselves Logan Square for Responsible Development.

This all reminds me of a similar project put together by LSNA and Bickerdike: The Zapata Apartments.

Because of NIMBY opposition the Zapata Apartments took nearly a decade to finally open to low-income residents.

Around 2007 the Zapata Apartments began as a proposal to build 61 subsidized units on three vacant lots near the border of Humboldt Park and Logan Square.

The $26 million project, aimed at working families with incomes between $20,000 and $44,000, was to be spread across four locations along the Logan Square/Humboldt Park border: 3230 W. Armitage (12 units); 1955 N. St. Louis Ave. (30 units); 3503 W. Armitage Ave. (3 units); and 3734 W. Cortland St. (16 units).

In response, the NIMBYS organized.

That version of opponents called themselves Armitage Neighbors Together.

ANT’s President at the time, Zach Abel, posted on the Logan Square list serve:

“We are tired and we don’t want or need any more low-income housing. I have been involved in my community for years so I can make it safer and better… In the past I received death threats by some of these LOWLIFES [sic] residents! But, I’m not stopping it all. I’m trying to reach to some elected officials at the Federal level and express my concerns and the others, and let them know what a waste of tax payers taxes this [low income housing] is!”

Zapata Apartments were built, finally opening to residents in 2014. But the need for affordable housing in Logan Square – and Chicago – is even greater now.

Remember that in 2008 the real estate market had crashed. Now housing in Logan Square has become out of the reach of most working people.

It would be a shame if the NIMBY opponents of Emmett Street succeeded in slowing or stopping this project.

A public input meeting will be held on Thursday, April 24, 2019, at Avondale-Logandale School (3212 W. George) from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM.

At this meeting, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation will present information to 35th Ward residents on the proposal. 35th Ward residents will have an opportunity to ask questions and provide input on the proposal and proposed zoning map amendment.

35 Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa says he will use the input from this meeting to make a decision on the proposed zoning map amendment that the applicant seeks.

Show up.



One thought on “Affordable housing and the NIMBY opposition have a history: The story of Logan Square’s Zapata apartments.

  1. Good luck. This city AND the northern suburbs definitely need more affordable housing.
    (We have a building on the end of our block that would be ideal…unfortunately, the person who built, owns & is now trying to sell the building {one of the prospective buyers said, “You don’t want Section 8 people here!” & was told, “Excuse us, WHAT did you say?” w/an explanation RE: affordable housing} doesn’t think he’d make enough money…he was trying to put a totally unsuitable package together {which, thank G-d, failed on all counts in Village Hall, via the neighbors’ racket}–it would have made $$$$$$ on the backs of the elderly & their families.)
    &, might I add, so many of us are so sorry that John Arena, a champion for affordable housing & many other good peoplecentric causes, wasn’t reelected (well, because of the latter). You will be missed.
    Fingers crossed for the 46th Ward…good to replace someone who attempts to prevent the Salvation Army from handing out sandwiches to the homeless (& that guy was a social worker!!).

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