$900,000 grant backs home renovations in Pullman

Thirty-five vacant properties will be sold for around $120,000 each to buyers earning close to the area’s median income.

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A view of historic Pullman rowhomes in the 10700 block of South Langley Avenue, some of which are due for a renovation.

A view of historic Pullman rowhomes in the 10700 block of South Langley Avenue, some of which are due for a renovation.

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Backed by a $900,000 grant from the city’s Housing Department, developers are expected to begin renovating 35 vacant rowhomes in Pullman, a deal that combines historic preservation with the push for affordable housing.

The grant will be awarded to Area Wide Realty so it can buy 30 of the homes — 17 from the community developer Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives and 13 from the Cook County Land Bank Authority. CNI will retain five others and rehab them.

The City Council approved the grant Wednesday. Most of the homes are in the 10500 block of South Corliss Avenue, the 10600 block of South Champlain Avenue and the 10700 block of South Langley Avenue.

The properties cover almost all of the vacant rowhomes left in a neglected area of North Pullman, said David Doig, president of CNI. He said he hopes the first group of gut rehabs can be completed early in 2021.

The homes will be priced at about $120,000 and sold to people earning from 80% to 120% of the area’s median income. For a family of four, the city’s current median income is $91,000 a year, according to Housing Department data. For a single person, it’s $63,700.

Area Wide Realty, which has renovated homes throughout the South Side, will work on its properties with private financing. The homes are near the federally designated Pullman National Monument.

Doig said the city’s involvement ensures that a section of Pullman’s historic residential district will be preserved. He had tried for years to put together a deal involving tax credits, but couldn’t get financing.

“In Pullman, the housing has special significance,” Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara said. “Built more than 100 years ago but left to languish in the late 1990s, like Pullman itself the housing has ‘good bones,’ is sturdy and ready to meet the housing needs of this century’s occupants.”

Ald. Anthony Beale, whose 9th Ward include Pullman, said the deal builds on other projects that have expanded the neighborhood’s business base. “As someone who has lived through the hard times here when no one thought Pullman and Roseland had a chance to survive, it’s gratifying to see that all are pulling together to continue the renewal that is happening here,” Beale said.

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