The second phase of construction on an East Garfield Park development geared toward working-class residents who don’t qualify for most affordable housing programs has started. 

Work on the Harrison Row Townhomes at 2849-59 W. Congress Pkwy., started on March 2. The project is a collaboration between Structured Development and Fain’s LCC, a Black-owned, East Garfield Park development firm. 

Fain’s secured city funding and some zoning changes for the Shops at Big Deahl mixed-income development near the former site of the Cabrini Green public housing development. Under the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) in force at the time, in exchange, they had to make 20% of all units affordable, with at least a fourth of the units located on-site and rest anywhere within the Near North/Near West pilot area, which includes most of East Garfield Park. Structured Development agreed to build 40 off-site, for-sale townhome units that would be affordable to residents earning 120% of the Area Median Income for the Chicagoland region.

The first phase, which was officially completed in March 2021, included seven three-bedroom houses. Phase 2 will include seven single-family townhomes and 14 duplixes, creating 33 three-bedroom units overall. The duplexes will be built using the modular construction method, which is expected to significantly speed up the construction time table, allowing the houses to be completed within the next seven to nine months. 

Mike Drew, Structured Development’s founder, said that they see Harrison Row Townhomes as working-class housing. The townhomes will sell for around $245,000.

“Teachers, police officers, firefighters, healthcare professionals, factory workers — they form the backbone of our city, yet they typically struggle to find affordable workforce housing,” he said. 

“Ironically, their income levels disqualify them for low-income housing options, but they don’t earn enough to afford market-rate homes, especially those that are newly constructed and large enough to accommodate a family.”

Fain’s was founded by East Garfield Park natives Kevin Brinson and Quentin Addison. Originally specializing in home renovations and other contracting work, they decided to shift focus to property development. Harrison Row Townhomes is their first major project.

For the second phase of the townhome project, Fain’s will take on a more active role in the work. The firm will be responsible for marketing the modular homes and will get a portion of the profits.

Brinson and Addison suggested using Kinexx Modular Construction to build the townhomes. The company will build the parts of the modular homes at its factory and then put each home together on site. 

According to its website, Kinexx was founded in 2020 with the goal of building homes that were affordable and could be built and assembled quickly. The process cuts down the construction time from an average of a year-and-a-half to nine months.

Joshua Braun, the company’s co-founder and CEO, said that Harrison Row Townhomes fits within Kinexx’s mission. 

“We make homes that make communities,’” he said.  “Our modular homes are indistinguishable from homes built using traditional construction methods, and we believe Harrison Row will prove the viability and scalability of our model.”

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...