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Chicagoland real estate roundup: Prefabs in Humboldt Park, suburban McMansions struggle and more

by Timothy Inklebarger

Sterling Bay bringing pre-fab flats to Chicago

Photo: Peter Fitzgerald, Wikimedia Commons

West Humboldt Park will soon be home to 30 factory-made affordable homes, courtesy of developer Sterling Bay and construction company Skender, according to a story in Block Club Chicago. The neighborhood news site noted that the various infill locations have not been determined, but the materials used to build them will all be the same Lego-like bricks “that can be put together in the field.” Skender representatives say this new approach will reduce construction time by 80 percent and that each structure will take about nine weeks to build. The cost of construction also is projected to be 5 to 20 percent lower than traditional three-flats.

Amid the recent controversy surrounding affordable housing requirements around its massive Lincoln Yards project, Sterling Bay struck a compromise with aldermen, agreeing to build 600 affordable units, with half of them allowed to be built within three miles of the project site. While Sterling Bay representatives acknowledge that West Humboldt Park doesn’t qualify as being close enough to satisfy that particular requirement, the project may be one that can help the developer recast its image in developing neighborhoods. “We understand there is an affordability issue in Chicago, and we understand we need to move as quickly as possible,” Shelly Burke, director of community engagement and diversity compliance at Sterling Bay, told Block Club. “We love the fact that this product can be produced inside a factory.”

Suburban McMansions having a tough run

Luxury homes situated outside the city are becoming increasingly difficult to sell, due to an increased desire for city dwelling and the move of big corporations locating in downtown Chicago, according to a report in Crain’s Chicago Business. Corporations report a renewed preference for locating in the city because that’s where employees say they want to live, according to the report. Crain’s notes that large corporations like McDonald’s, Motorola Solutions, Mead Johnson, GE Healthcare and Kraft Heinz have all relocated from the suburbs.

Lightfoot’s new housing boss focused on desegregation, affordable housing

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has begun filling out her administration’s cabinet of commissioners and has named an expert on segregation to head the Chicago Housing Authority, WBEZ reports. The appointment of Marisa Novara still needs city council approval. Novara, who is on leave from the Metropolitan Planning Council, where she focused on segregation, told WBEZ that she’s spent over 15 years “in community-based affordable housing development, housing policy [and] racial equity.” 

Rents up for downtown Chicago apartments

The hot rental market for top-tier downtown Chicago units continued in the first quarter, following a decade-long trend away from condominiums in favor of rentals, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Average rental prices in the Class A category increased 5.8 percent year-over-year for a record $3.26 per square foot; meanwhile, the occupancy rate rose 1.1 percentage points to 94.3 percent. Rents for Class A apartments are projected to increase 3 to 5 percent this year, according to the report.

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