Park Douglas Groundbreaking Marks Important New Housing Start for Chicago’s North Lawndale Neighborhood

by Chicago Agent

A historic neighborhood on Chicago’s west side is poised for a new beginning October 26, with the groundbreaking for Park Douglas, an innovative 137-unit mixed-income rental housing development. The ceremony will take place at 11:00 am, at the intersection of 12th Place and Talman Avenue, in Chicago’s North Lawndale community. The $44 million dollar initiative is a partnership of the City of Chicago, the Chicago Housing Authority, Mount Sinai Hospital, and the developer B-M Ogden LLC.

Park Douglas will provide attractive, modern apartments for households with a range of incomes. Sixty units will be public housing, and will serve as replacement units for the demolished Lawndale Gardens complex. Another 49 units will be funded with Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and will be targeted to low- and moderate-income households, while the remaining 28 units will be market rate, with no income restrictions. The first move-ins are expected in July 2011.

“Park Douglas constitutes a fresh start for the community,” said Rich Sciortino, President of Brinshore Development, LLC. “Together we are transforming vacant land into attractive new homes that the community can feel proud of.” The development leveraged over $10 million in highly competitive stimulus funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The construction is also expected to bring jobs to the community – over 200 construction jobs and five permanent management positions.

Park Douglas is conveniently located only 10 minutes west of downtown and a half-mile south of the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290). Just two blocks to the west is the 173-acre Douglas Park, one of the city’s largest and finest green spaces. In addition to a portion of the former CHA site, the development will also include smaller “infill” sites spread throughout the neighborhood. Park Douglas will provide one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartments with modern, attractive finishes, and all appliances, including in-unit washers and dryers. Residents will also have access to a brand new community center, with a management office, meeting space with kitchen, and a computer lab.

The development was designed by a pair of renowned architecture firms, Pappageorge/Haymes and Koo and Associates. The result is a notable departure from the “cookie cutter” homes of the past. According to Jackie Koo of Koo and Associates, “For the infill buildings at Park Douglas, we chose classic features to be in harmony with the existing neighborhood. We also incorporated many sustainable strategies in the buildings, including the use of salvaged ornament, which we feel enriches the design and adds a level of authenticity.” The buildings adjacent to the site of the new Mount Sinai Hospital, however, will have a more contemporary look, to better match the modern style of the planned medical center expansions.

Inspired by the natural beauty of nearby Douglas Park, the structures incorporate a number of “green” and sustainable features. Each building will be Energy Star rated, with walls, windows and roofs that exceed city standards for insulation. In addition, a portion of each building’s rear yard will be set aside as a private garden for residents. The community building, located on Roosevelt Road, will be a model for sustainable construction, with the developer anticipating LEED certification to the gold level. The building will feature geothermal heating and cooling, a green roof, bioswales for water runoff management, and photovoltaic panels, which will substantially lower energy bills for many years to come.

The 137 rental units are the first phase of a comprehensive redevelopment program that will ultimately include over 300 units of rental and for-sale housing, as well as the new Mount Sinai Hospital, which is moving to the north side of Ogden Avenue. Sinai Health System, which operates the hospital, played a critical role in getting the project off the ground. Alan H. Channing, President and CEO of Sinai Health System, stated, “Sinai Health System’s Board of Directors and family of caregivers conceived of the community development and healthcare project, and are grateful to the City of Chicago, the Mayor’s Office, Alderman Ed Smith, the Chicago Housing Authority, and Brinshore-Michaels for making this special day possible. Park Douglas will provide much needed mixed-income housing for neighborhood residents, and represents a historically important milestone in the revitalization of Sinai’s neighborhood.” The hospital’s social service arm, Sinai Community Institute, will also provide residents with a variety of social services, including health care consultation, job training and family counseling.

The developer, B-M Ogden LLC, is a partnership of Brinshore Development, LLC and Michaels Development Company. Both firms have a wealth of experience in affordable and mixed-income housing. Brinshore is among Illinois’ top producers of affordable housing, having developed over 4,000 units since 1994. Michaels is an industry leader nationally, with over $2.5 billion in development and rehabilitation projects. The firms have previously partnered on two highly successful mixed-income developments in Chicago, Legends South, in the city’s Bronzeville neighborhood, and Westhaven Park, in the Near West Side.

In addition to contributions by Mount Sinai Hospital and the Chicago Housing Authority, Park Douglas was funded through a wide range of sources. The City of Chicago donated land and provided a Low Income Housing Tax Credit allocation as well as HOME funds. Additional support came from 28th Ward Alderman Ed Smith, who is expected to speak at the event. “It took a consortium of private and public sector organizations to reach this groundbreaking,” added Rich Sciortino. “By next year, this patch of dirt will be part of a vibrant and sustainable neighborhood.”

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