On the south side of Chicago, redevelopment burns away at a slow crawl. Sandwiched between 105th and 107th street in the Washington Heights neighborhood, a new block of single family residences is going up. Unlike developments ten years ago, this is going up one house at a time.
This area is next to the expressway and has a Metra stop at 103rd. It isn't that far from the the southern terminus of the red line at 95th, and is fairly close to the more frequent subline Metra service in East Beverly, which you can see on the far left side of the map.
This is the only home currently under construction. Interestingly the homes seem to be constructed piecemeal. Some are adjacent to other homes and some are, like this one, alone.
One thing that won't be built on is the center lot.
the city will create a two-acre park at the center of the development.
The architectural style in particular strikes me. Highly reminiscent of late 19th century architecture, the use of brick instead of wood (at least for the front facade) is also very similar to old Chicago neighborhoods, which used brick after the Great Chicago Fire.
If you came here blindfolded, you might get the impression that this was a new development on the edge of suburbia. Not only is this large area building up from empty lots, it is also next to a trail and some small wilderness.
Major Taylor Trail, which looks like an old train line repurposed, which it is.
This home is not part of the new development. Across the street, it stands in contrast to the new homes in every way. Squat and with a front driveway, it is short and wide to the new tall and narrow. The fleet of cars in the driveway is also reminiscent of the the far far suburbs. It, as well as the home next door, has a large yard; far larger than the new developments.
Not much of a back yard, which is common in Chicago. In some places intrepid developers will put a deck on top of the garage roof. No one has yet done that here, but you never know what will be built.
New home prices are far below the original plans.
Where the original developer had priced the residences from $300,000 to
$500,000—and managed to sell only five—Smagala listed them from $179,000
(for buyers who qualify under the city’s affordable-housing rules) to
I personally prefer front porches, and a few homes have them. The homes at the end of the block tend to have the large front bay window. I wonder if that is coincidence or part of the plan? I didn't come at the right time to check in with the front office to see.
Having the front of the house close to the street and the garage in a back alley is typical of houses built in Chicago at the beginning of the 20th century. In a way we have come full circle in the last 100 years. I haven't yet discovered what was built here before. Maybe one day I will get to the historical society, as I'm sure they have the answers.
It almost feels like it is lying dormant, waiting for the economy to pick up at which point it will spring to life. Only time will tell if that's true.