Walked by here the other day, looks like it is doing well still
Dorothy Barry says that she moved in to the Margot and Harold Schiff Residences on a “blue-sky, ain’t-nowhere-I’d-rather-be-than-Chicago” kind of day back in the summer of 2007. She says you can’t do much better than this sleek, new Helmut Jahn–designed building on the north side of the city: She gets a millionaire’s view of the skyline and is just a short ride from downtown and the beaches of Lake Michigan.
At Division Street and Clybourn Avenue, though, she’s also within blocks of the infamous Cabrini-Green public housing. Those towers are mostly torn down, replaced by mixed-income residential towers and townhouses—but their shells remind Chicagoans to do better when it comes to housing the less well-off.
Neighbors call the one-year-old stainless-steel Schiff Residences “the train,” and it does indeed resemble a polished railroad car cruising through the neighborhood. Its walls angle out as they rise up five stories, curving back over to form a roof before sliding down the other side. In a practical city raised on railroads this residential railcar is romantic. Strips of dark windows punctuate the walls, staggered to evoke forward momentum. In the ground-floor lobby, sunlight pours through great panes of floor-to-ceiling glass. Prada or Barneys could set up shop on the ground floor and no one would be the wiser.
But the Schiff Residences are permanent supportive-housing, with onsite case managers and other voluntary services. All of the 96 units are single-occupancy studio apartments. Residents here have struggled with physical and mental illness, substance abuse, and limited education. At the Schiff, you can stay as long as you follow the rules. It opened in March 2007, and already 300 people have expressed interest in moving in.
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