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A new “off-site” ARO townhouse development opens on the West Side

Published on Mar. 26, 2021 by Steven Vance

Harrison Row Townhomes is a new group of affordable, townhouses for sale that were built to satisfy an ARO requirement for Structured Development. Eventually, there will be 50 units. The land was previously vacant.

Chicago’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance, or ARO, requires new housing developments with 10 or more units that receive a zoning change (or city money or land) to provide 10 percent (or more, depending on the location) of the units as affordable. The default rule is that some of the units must be built within the development, and others can be built somewhere else — off-site , within a maximum distance away— or not built at all and an in lieu fee is paid instead.

The new townhouses are at the corner of Congress Parkway and Francisco Avenue. Each townhouse also has a small rear yard and an access to a detached garage. Provided by Taylor Johnson.

The seven homes start at $229,000, and have three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms in 1,200 s.f. over three stories, and access to a detached garage.

CTA buses are a block away on Harrison Street to the Illinois Medical District and downtown, and on Kedzie Avenue, where there’s also a Blue Line station (see our Transportation Snapshot for this location).

Aside from this being one of the rare off-site ARO for-sale housing developments, there is one other significant aspect.

Kevin Brinson principal, Fain’s Development LLC; Annette Shelton, Fain’s Development and Baird & Warner; Almarie Ratcliff; Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr.; Mike Drew, founding principal of Structured Development; Quentin Addison, principal, Fain’s Development LLC. Provided by Taylor Johnson.

The townhouses were co-developed by Structured Development — a major developer, responsible for the New City apartments and mall in Lincoln Park, among others — and Fain’s Development. The next phase will have 26 townhouses and be led by Fain’s Development.

From a press release, “Fain’s Development, LLC, a community-based minority development firm led by Kevin Brinson and Quentin ‘Q’ Addison, will act as a full joint venture partner on a portion of the next phase after receiving mentorship during the development of phase one. Like Structured, Fain’s will share in the fee revenues and profit and losses while gaining the foundation to develop projects independently in the future.”

The townhouses are triggered by Structured Development’s Big Deahl development, two blocks east of the New City apartments and mall. That location is in the Near North Pilot Area and thus cannot pay an in lieu fee and must build all of its required affordable housing.

Big Deahl, also called The Shops at Big Deahl, is a phased development. A climbing gym was permitted two years ago and several new residential skyscrapers were approved by Chicago City Council in January.

Three of the seven units are under contract. Photos by Steven Vance.

Since they are affordable dwellings, potential buyers must earn less than 120 percent of the area median income. The Chicago Community Land Trust is in charge of verifying buyers’ incomes. The land trust also has a deed covenant on each townhouse’s recordings to ensure permanent affordability.

When I visited the site on Friday afternoon, there were signs indicating that three of the seven units were already under contract.

A new “off-site” ARO townhouse development opens on the West Side was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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