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Habitat for Humanity begins So. Side, suburban building—downtown

Pioneer Court Plaza in Chicago has been home to art fairs, cultural festivals, even a giant sculpture of Marilyn Monroe.

In a few weeks it will be taken over by more than 50,000 pounds of lumber and 400 volunteers for Chicagoland Habitat for Humanity as 13 homes are partially constructed for the West Pullman neighborhood, Waukegan and Glen Ellyn.

Habitat for Humanity pulled off similar ventures at Rockefeller Center in New York City in 2005 and at the base of the Space Needle in Seattle in 2012.

Pioneer Court, on the Magnificent Mile, will get its turn with the Raise Your Hand Chicagoland campaign May 29 to June 1.

Sarah Johnson, 26, who is buying one of the homes that will be delivered to Waukegan, said the concept of her single-story home, with about 1,200 square feet of living space, being built near the Chicago River and some of the most beautiful buildings in the world boggled her mind.

“I keep wondering how they are going to get it done,” Johnson, a single mom of two boys and a girl, said. “You should see people’s faces when I tell them. They say, ‘Wait, your house is going to be built in Chicago?’ ”