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Related Companies for Parkway Gardens Homes: Outstanding For-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project

For working closely and thoughtfully with the Woodlawn community to give new life to a storied housing development, Related Companies is awarded the 2014 Outstanding For-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project Award for its Parkway Gardens Homes.

Woodlawn’s Parkway Gardens Homes – the childhood home of the First Lady Michelle Obama – is a 13-acre complex of 35 masonry buildings with 694 apartments. Built for and by African American families, it’s a reminder of the post-World War II transformation on Chicago’s South Side. Once celebrated as a model for affordable urban housing, over the past few decades Parkway Gardens Homes has suffered from the disinvestment and abandonment befalling the surrounding neighborhood.

When Parkway came on the market in 2010, many developers were intimidated by the scope and breadth of the challenge. But Related Companies saw potential to renew the massive complex and, in the process, contribute to the broader revitalization of Woodlawn. They purchased the property and began rehabbing it in 2011.

The company, using historic and low-income housing tax credits, repaired potholed sidewalks, leaking sanitary systems, insect and rodent infestation and cracked bricks. It also repainted units and common corridors, re-did flooring and lighting, and updated kitchens and bathrooms with new cabinets and fixtures. Green spaces and parking lots were upgraded while maintaining historically significant landscape features. Related then installed playgrounds and barbeque areas on site, as well as a new athletic field for the neighboring elementary school.

In addition to the physical improvements, Related has worked closely with the community to identify ways to improve safety and create opportunities for youth programming. A collaboration of local churches, the Alderman’s office, the Woodlawn Public Safety Alliance, and the 3rd District Police Department brought the City of Chicago’s PlayStreets program to the community, allowing children from Parkway Gardens Homes and their parents to engage in structured athletic activities. With the help of an investment by Related, this program was recently expanded to occur year-round.

The Outstanding For-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project Award is given to a for-profit real estate project that responds to community needs, involved the community in the planning process, and shows an innovative approach to design and financing.