Harrison Row Townhomes -- Phase III - Structured Development

The last five homes planned as part of Harrison Row, an affordable for-sale home development on previously vacant stretches of Harrison Street, Congress Parkway and Francisco Avenue, is nearing completion.

The project is a collaboration between Structured Development and Fain’s LCC, a Black-owned, East Garfield Park development firm. The city granted them zoning changes to allow them to build Shops at Big Deahl, a mixed-income development near the former site of the Cabrini Green public housing development. In return, they had to make 20% of all the units affordable, but they were able to build 40 of those units off-site in communities that faced the prospect of gentrification-driven displacement. The units must 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 at 2849-59 W. Congress Pkwy. Phase II was originally supposed to include the remaining 33 homes, but the developers ended up splitting the phase into two parts. For the newly minted Phase II, they worked with Kinexx Modular Construction company to build 14 duplexes, or 28 units total, along Harrison Street. They were built in 2022 using the modular construction method, where each floor was assembled off-site and put together on site, which sped up construction. 

The remaining five three-story homes, which are being built on the stretch of Francisco Avenue between Congress Parkway and Harrison Street sites, are now part of Phase III. Each house will have four bedrooms, with the design similar to Phase I. 

Jeff Berta, Structured Development’s senior director of real estate development, told Austin Weekly News they decided not to go with modular design for those homes because they felt a more traditional construction method would work better for the site’s dimensions. 

Mike Drew, Structured Development’s founder, previously said the Harrison Row Townhomes were working-class housing.

“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.”

Berta said the Phase III townhomes will sell for $249,000. 

He said they reached out to local churches, schools and nonprofit organizations to let potential buyers know about the opportunity, and they got a good response. So far, he said, nine people bought homes across the two phases, and two more are in the closing process. Since the buyers had never owned homes before, there was some learning curve, but Berta said they have accounted for that.

“The response has been very good for the owners that moved in,” he said. “They’re new homeowners, so there’s education process — so we’re working with them, answering their questions and helping them adopt to the new home ownership situation.”

Phase III is expected to be finished by the end of March. 

“We look forward to bringing all 40 homes to this neighborhood” Berta said. “As we’ve said from the beginning when we started construction, this is building up the neighborhood. We want to give 40 families an ability to own a home at an affordable price and we think this is a great way to do it. We look forward to stabilizing this neighborhood by providing affordable single-family homes.”

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...