Mixed-use property coming to Woodlawn to help maintain affordable living


CHICAGO — A first-of-its-kind luxury, mixed-use residential and commercial property is coming to Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side.

This comes as local leaders have fought hard to keep existing residents in the neighborhood as housing costs in and around the neighborhood go up.

The up-and-coming Park Station Lofts at 63rd and Maryland is one of a handful of developments expected to do that.

On Nov. 2, city and community leaders celebrated the groundbreaking of the lofts currently under construction.

Part of the vision behind the development is keeping housing affordable and equitable in Woodlawn.

“This is what people in our community have been asking for,” 20th Ward Ald. Jeanette Taylor said.

Park Station Lofts is the first new development being built under the Woodlawn Affordable Housing Preservation ordinance.

Taylor helped spearhead the ordinance to address gentrification in Woodlawn as the up-and-coming Obama Presidential Library is being built.

“Since I’ve been in office, I’ve seen thousands of people who have had to move out of Woodlawn because landlords now know that they can get more money and so they’re raising the rent and folks can’t afford it,” Taylor said.

Michale’s Development Company and DL3 Realty are leading the Park Station Lofts Development.

Greg Olson, a regional vice president for Micahel’s said the company knows nationally for developing affordable housing, he’s excited about what’s coming to the area.

“It’s going to be a five-story building with 58 units, including one, two and three-bedroom apartments,” Olson said. “We’ll have great amenities, including a rooftop deck.”

Part of the Woodlawn Affordable Housing ordinance requires a percentage of properties built on city land to be affordable for families that don’t earn a lot of money.

“Anything build on city-owned land, 30% of the property has to support people whose median income is below what the city average is,” Taylor said.

While a portion of Park Station Lofts will be offered at a market rate, 41 of the 58 units will be designated for families earning low and moderate incomes.

Growing up in Woodlawn, Leon Walker, managing partner for DL3 Realty, said he has a special heart for the community and is committed to building inclusive properties that respect existing residents and businesses.

“We have a dedicated investment strategy to be partners with Woodlawn as we move from a community that was historically disinvested for so many years to one that’s growing,” Walker said.

In addition to living space, the lofts will also include retail space and room for Sunshine Enterprises, a non-profit in the neighborhood, to offer its community business academy.

“That will provide coaching, training and connecting these local entrepreneurs to the resources that they need to launch, sustain, grow and scale their enterprises that not only leads to their individual transformation, but to the transformation of their families their employees,” BJ Stewart, executive director for Sunshine Enterprises, said.

As new developments spring up throughout Woodlawn, Taylor said she’ll continue to fight for properties that grow her community and also respect existing residents.

“It’s a way for us to slow down gentrification we haven’t figured out how to stop it yet, but this slows it down because it says if a developer decides to buy a city-owned property, they know that a percentage of that has to be affordable for the people who already live there,” Taylor said.

Taylor said Park Station Lofts is one of six initial developments that’ll be built under the Woodlawn Housing Preservation Ordinance.

Developers expect to begin leasing the lofts around the end of next year or early 2024.

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