Sears, Roebuck and Co, Shaw Co and the city of Chicago, IL, have joined together to build a 74-unit housing unit on the west-side land that used to accommodate the Sears’ headquarters. The housing is aimed at low and moderate-income families and includes for-sale and rental units. Other buildings on the land will be renovated to provide facilities for light industry, service organizations and businesses.
The catalog building is being removed
All units are scheduled to be occupied by first-quarter 1995. Additionally, more than a million square feet in existing buildings at the Sears site will be renovated and leased to businesses, service organizations and light industry. The catalog building is being removed, except for the original Sears Tower portion, to make way for additional residential development in Homan Square. Demolition of the catalog building began in May 1994 and is expected to be complete by early 1995. The 14-story tower will be restored and retained as a community focal point.
“We have had many opportunities to develop our west-side property over the years, but we wanted to be sure that anything we did was right for the area, right for the residents, right for the city’s master plan and right for Sears. This phase is just the first step of a multi-year commitment to helping the community and the city,” said Sears, Roebuck chairman and chief executive Edward A. Brennan.
“The completion of phase one is the start of a long-term commitment to provide high-quality, affordable housing to the Lawndale community,” said Charles H. Shaw, chairman, the Shaw Co. “We are pleased to partner with the city and Sears to help bring out the best side of the West Side.” More than half of the new-home applicants under contract are from the Lawndale, Austin and Garfield neighborhoods.
The single-family homes are part of the city of Chicago’s successful “New Homes for Chicago” affordable-housing program. Through New Homes, developers receive a $20,000 per home construction subsidy, which is passed on as a savings to the home buyer. Sears has also subsidized the cost of each home with $13,000.
Fourteen minority-owned contractors received more than 45 percent of about $4.5 million in contracts awarded for the first phase of construction at Homan Square. Seven of 25 contractors involved in Phase I were west-side companies.
Shaw reported that the second phase of construction is expected to begin in spring 1995. Plans for Phase II call for about 72 units, more than three-quarters of which will be subsidized homes for sale and rent. The units will be built on blocks bordered by Polk Street on the north, Arthington Street on the south, St. Louis Street on the west, and Spaulding Avenue on the east.
The Homan Square project represents one of the city’s largest revitalization efforts ever undertaken in a joint venture with the private and public sectors. The original 55-acre headquarters site of Sears, located in North Lawndale, will find new life as residential, community service and commercial properties. Stabilizing the neighborhood with affordable housing has been the first priority of the development team.