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Washington Park Homes To Finally Be Rebuilt, 15 Years After Being Torn Down

By Sam Cholke | May 17, 2017 5:53am | Updated on May 19, 2017 11:38am
 The Washington Park Homes redevelopment will include 16,800 square feet of retail.
The Washington Park Homes redevelopment will include 16,800 square feet of retail.
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Courtesy of Brinshore Development

GRAND BOULEVARD — The former Washington Park Homes public housing development will finally be rebuilt — six years after the Chicago Housing Authority picked a developer to do it and 15 years after it was demolished.

The CHA named the Michaels Organization and Brinshore Development as the developers for the project in 2011, but it took until Tuesday to finish the paperwork with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development required to start the project for 45th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue.

Greg Olson, vice president for the Michaels Organization, said a lot of things were holding the project up, but construction is now expected to start in October.

The plan approved Tuesday will create 84 new apartments, including 21 public housing units, 38 affordable units and 25 market-rate units in the first phase of development.

Matt Aguilar, a spokesman for the CHA, said the financing held up the approval for the project.

"Over the years, there have been a number of different financial hurdles we've had to clear," Aguilar said. "And now we've finally be able to align the financing to move this forward."

Olson said there will also be 16,800 square feet of retail space that will likely be broken up into small storefronts for mom-and-pop-size businesses, with one spot already set aside for a restaurant.

He said no retail leases had been signed yet.

Oslon said the design has not changed much in the last six years and the plan is still to front most of the development on Cottage Grove Avenue with a courtyard in the middle of the development that can be used for community events.

Planning for the second phase, which will include another 74 units, will likely start in the fall, according to Olson.

Demolition of the high-rises had started more than 10 years earlier in 1999 and it’s unclear what the hold-up was for Washington Park Homes.

Many of CHA’s properties in Grand Boulevard were slowed or stalled by the recession in the housing market that started in 2008. 

Almost every year since 2008, the CHA would report to HUD that Washington Park Homes would start that year, only to see no progress — and then the same passage would appear in the next year’s report to the federal agency.

The last of five 15-story towers was demolished in 2002 and the site has been a vacant lot across the street from a Family Dollar since. 

Washington Park Homes will include 158 apartments, with 84 coming in the first phase starting in October. [Courtesy of Brinshore Development]