Former Chicago Park District chief and longtime Austin resident, David Doig, has big plans for Austin.
Doig’s one-year old GenOne Group, a real estate company he started with two partners after leaving the park district in 2004, has a 41-unit condominium and townhouse project set for Austin. The group plans to start selling in spring of 2006. Construction is expected to begin by next June.
GenOne and Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott are partnering to build 26 townhouses and 15 condos near Waller and Lake streets, at a cost of $11 million.
Doig said the new townhomes and condos will be priced in the low $300,000 and $200,000 range, respectively. GenOne purchased two parcels of land at 445-77 N. Waller and 420 N. Waller?”a combined 33,000 square feet of space?”in July.
The 26 three-story townhomes on 445-57 Waller are planned for 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath units with 2,200 square feet, and 2-car garages, Doig said. Doig said the prices are not unreasonable given development in other parts of the city, like Bronzeville or the North Side, where homes go for upwards of $400,000.
Austin is joining other West Side communities in the recent boom of residential development. Doig attributes the West Side housing boom to low interest rates and available lands for development. Homes and condominiums have sprouted up in Garfield, Pilsen, North and South Lawndale and Humboldt Park within the last year. Doig said Austin has been slower in home building because of the few vacant areas in the community.
“There’s not a lot of vacant land in Austin,” he said. “If you look at places like North Lawndale, they have an abundance of vacant lots. In Austin, it’s maybe one lot here, then a couple blocks away, another. Developers are coming in and buying up that land.”
Doig’s career began as a community developer in the mid-1980s. A fresh-faced college grad in 1986, Doig worked for the Lawndale Christian Development Corporation, working mostly on rehab projects. In 1993, he joined the Department of Housing. He became Chicago Park District superintendent in 1999. Among his Austin projects was the renovation of LaFollette Park at 1333 N. Laramie three years ago.
Doig left the park district last year to start GenOne with a couple of college buddies. He’s lived in Austin for 10 years. Doig said his projects would help improve Austin for both current and future residents. He doesn’t worry about fears of gentrification from current residents, who are concerned about losing their homes because of higher taxes resulting from newer homes being built.
“I don’t see that happening,” he predicted. “We’re not evicting people from their homes or buying up properties. These are new homes being built on available land. I believe strongly in the community. I’ve lived here for 10 years, and I want to see the best for Austin and its residents.”