ENGLEWOOD — City officials celebrated the grand opening of a seniors’ housing estate in Englewood on Wednesday, more than a decade after two South Side aldermen struck a deal to secure valuable tax credits that made possible project.

Montclare’s “JoAnn Thompson” seniors’ residence, 6332 S. Green St., began housing residents ages 62 and older in April 2021. The seven-story, $26 million building features 102 units with a room and amenities like a hair salon, fitness center, guest laundry and library, officials said.

The mixed-use housing, built on city-owned land, is part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West initiative, a program to revitalize southern and western neighborhoods with economic and business developments. MR Properties, LLC has built the property, its eighth affordable seniors housing unit in Chicago, company officials said.

The name is in honor of Thompson, the late 16th Ward councilman who helped lead development before she died in 2015 of heart failure.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The grand opening of Montclare JoAnn Thompson Seniors’ Residences of Englewood, 6332 S. Green St., on April 13, 2022.

Philip Mappa, a developer with MR Properties, LLC, said the seniors’ residence has been under construction for more than a decade.

The city approved a tax credit for the building in 2011 but withdrew support for the project seven years later, Mappa said. Aldus. Carrie Austin (34th) stepped in and offered to postpone a project in her Far South Side neighborhood so the Montclare development could apply for city funding again, Mappa said.

Austin said Thompson approached her and said “the city’s attitude at the time” would prevent the residence from being built. She told Thompson to take her tax credits, Austin said.

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of one,” Austin said. “…I’m grateful that God allowed me to have these credits to give to JoAnn, to make this a reality.”

Without Austin, the building wouldn’t exist, Mappa said.

Austin and his chief of staff were indicted in July on charges of conspiring to take bribes from building contractors seeking city assistance for a development project. In December, Austin announced she would likely retire after nearly three decades on city council.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Aldus. Carrie Austin (34th) applauds at the grand opening of Montclare JoAnn Thompson Seniors Residences in Englewood.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she didn’t know the story of Austin’s contribution to the building, but she wasn’t surprised. Austin has been “selfless in his commitment to the community,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said ensuring the city’s “most vulnerable residents” are taken care of has been a top priority during the pandemic. Senior housing was one of many steps in that direction, Lightfoot said.

“People need to know where they’re going to lay their heads at night and that it’s a safe, secure, decent place to be for them,” Lightfoot said. “As a result, our city has worked hard to fully provide our most vulnerable residents with the resources needed to provide stability in a time marked by unpredictability. One of those resources, of course, is affordable housing.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The in-house lounge at Montclare JoAnn Thompson Seniors Residences in Englewood.

The first residents moved in last spring. James Brackenridge said the building was “convenient and pleasant”, praising the laundry facilities and the hair salon on site. He says he hopes to get closer to his neighbors.

“Hopefully we can become a community within this building,” Brackenridge said. “Some people keep to themselves, but my desire is for us to become a community, to take care of each other and make the most of it.”

Bessie Lyles, a resident since June, said her time in the building had been “fantastic”. Every Monday, a bus takes the inhabitants to do their shopping. On Wednesdays, a vegetable truck delivers fresh produce.

Last weekend a group of steppers came and taught the residents how to dance. They might be having a stepper party soon, she said.

“I see greatness in the future,” Lyles said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The in-house fitness center.

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