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Parkway Gardens complex is no longer for sale

Related Midwest, the real estate and development firm that owns the sprawling property in Woodlawn, confirmed Thursday it was off the market.

A mother walks with a young child into the Parkway Garden Apartment complex in the 6400 block of Martin Luther King Drive in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood.
Parkway Gardens is no longer for sale, owner Related Midwest confirmed.
Sun-Times file

Parkway Gardens, one of the biggest and most notorious affordable housing complexes in Chicago, is no longer for sale.

Related Midwest, the real estate and development firm that owns the sprawling property in Woodlawn and listed it for sale in April, confirmed Thursday it was off the market.

The most prominent marketing feature for prospective buyers was a contract with federal housing authorities that would have ensured subsidized rent for years to come.

“We have spoken to federal and local leaders and have decided to suspend the sale of Parkway Gardens. We will continue to work with partners at (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), the city, and the community to ensure residents have quality affordable housing options for years to come,” a spokeswoman for Related said in an email.

Related is one of Chicago’s most active developers. Among its projects is a plan to turn 62 acres along the Chicago River on the Near South Side into “The 78” — the city’s 78th community.

Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) said Thursday that Related’s change of heart came after she had a conversation with Mayor Lori Lightfoot in which she told the mayor how bad it would look if Related abandoned its commitment to some of the city’s poorest residents and a property that needed significant repairs while receiving hundreds of millions in subsidies to build The 78,

“It looks very bad if they mistreat low-income residents but were given the gift of The 78 project,” Taylor said. “The mayor gave me her word that Related would do what they were supposed to do.”

Taylor has been a harsh critic of Related’s management of the property, but she’s hopeful things will improve at the housing complex.

“There’s some work to be done, but as long as they are committed, we are committed,” Taylor said.

In March, she urged the city’s Building Department to send inspectors to Parkway Gardens, which resulted in more than 50 building violations ranging from missing window screens and broken window panes to rodent issues and malfunctioning elevators.

Related pledged to immediately address the issues.

“The mayor spoke with Related to address the alderman’s concerns that included the physical property as well as the need to include wraparound services for the community and its residents. The mayor believes that it’s important to work collaboratively on housing issues to ensure that our residents have the support they need,” a spokeswoman said in an email.

A spokeswoman for HUD said Related “is maintaining their commitment to the property and the community.”

Parkway Gardens stretches from 63rd to 65th streets between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Calumet Avenue. A portion of King Drive along Parkway Gardens known as “O Block” — a reference to a gang member who was killed nearby — was once the most dangerous block in the city.

Rapper Lil Durk, who grew up at Parkway Gardens, tweeted April 30 that he’d buy the complex.

“I’ll buy it don’t matter how much it is,” tweeted the 28-year-old rapper, whose real name is Durk D. Banks.

Representatives for Banks didn’t return a message seeking comment.

Rapper Chief Keef grew up at Parkway Gardens as well, as did rapper King Von, who was killed in a shooting outside a club in Atlanta in November.

As a child, former first lady Michelle Obama lived in Parkway Gardens before it was turned into 694 units of affordable housing with federally subsidized rents.