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Outstanding For-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project: BMH-I, LLC, for West Haven Park Partments

No redevelopment project in recent history has been more closely watched than the CHA Plan for Transformation. The destruction of the old high-rise developments and planned replacement with mixed-income communities has drawn praise and criticism in equal measure. Now, as the new neighborhoods begin to emerge, a high standard of quality has been set by the Westhaven Park Apartments (WHP), part of the redevelopment of the Henry Horner Homes.

The developer is BMH-I, LLC, a joint venture between experienced partners, Brinshore Development of Northbrook and Michaels Development Co. of New Jersey, and their experience was sorely needed to navigate the turbulent waters of the Horner redevelopment.

As a result of a lawsuit by the Horner Mothers Guild, the project was governed by a consent decree throughout its history. BMH-I worked endlessly with all stakeholders – resident groups, the CHA, two aldermen, the plaintiff's counsel, and neighborhood leaders – to shepherd this phase of the development to completion. The results are superior.

WHP represents the first 155 rental units of a planned 764 unit project. It occupies seven of the 26.5 acres of the former Horner site, and consists of 87 public housing units, 31 affordable and 37 market rate units in fifteen three- and four-story buildings. The buildings were designed by four separate architects, reducing the monotony associated with public housing in the past. In addition, the City of Chicago reconfigured the site, reopening the grid of streets that were once interrupted by the CHA 'super block' and reconnecting WHP with the surrounding community.

The development is completely leased, indicating its desirability. The apartments are large and bright, with market rate amenities. Views of downtown and convenient transportation add to the attraction.

Since over half of its leaseholders are former Horner residents, the development team partners with social service providers for case management, job training and placement assistance. Residents and other local people were hired to work on project construction and maintenance. These considerations have made West Haven Park so successful that BMH-I won the Housing Justice Award from the National Poverty Law Center, the attorneys who brought the original Mothers Guild lawsuit.

Praised as a "national model for public housing transformation," Westhaven Park Apartments is the Outstanding For-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project for 2005.