GREATER GRAND CROSSING — A team of investors has joined forces to bring luxury, energy-efficient container homes to the South Side — and neighbors could move in as soon as this winter.
Vincennes Village, a collection of 12 40-foot-long modern, eco-friendly container homes, will be built at 7231 S. Vincennes Ave.
The project is the brainchild of project manager Darryl Burton, owner of Global Financial Services, and developer Anthony Casboni, former owner of the demolished Vincennes Discount Center and a retired firefighter. Onyx Architectural Services, a minority-owned firm, is the lead developer.
The homes — built from 8-foot-wide train shipping containers — will have ceilings nearly 10 feet high. They will have 1,200-1,800 square feet of space, two stories and three to four bedrooms. The homes will include full appliances, including an indoor washer and dryer, as well as a balcony, a covered patio and car garages.
Each home will also be energy efficient, with motion-activated lights and faucets and “state of the art material anyone might find in a traditional wooden house,” Burton said. Pricing for the homes will start at $300,000, developers said.
Construction on the container homes will begin in the next few months once the “final blueprints are stamped” by the Department of Buildings, Burton said.
Vincennes Village will welcome its first families by Christmas, Burton said.
“We decided to develop a practical and innovative approach to constructing new homes,” Burton said. “Everything about the house will be upscale. We’re bringing suburban living to a city block.”
‘Container Homes Enhance Communities’
Vincennes Village was born out of a chance encounter between Burton and Casboni.
Alongside his late brothers, Casboni was the owner of Vincennes Discount Center, a family-owned business that spent more than 60 years in Greater Grand Crossing, Casboni said.
To the north and south of the business were apartment buildings that “became dilapidated,” Casboni said. When the city demolished the buildings, Casboni and his brothers bought the lots from the city in the early ’90s, he said.
As the years went by, the Casbonis decided to “semi-retire” from their business and tore down Vincennes Discount Center around 2001, Casboni said.
Left with a large patch of land from the store and about 20 vacant lots from the apartment buildings, the Casbonis decided to build eight homes where the store once operated, Casboni said.
When the housing market collapsed in 2008, the brothers “took a breather” from building the homes, Casboni said.
But as the years trickled on, they struggled to find the right developer to assist in bringing homes to the community, Casboni said.
In April 2021, Casboni met Burton, “a mover and a shaker” with a creative idea to transform his vacant land, Casboni said.
“It interested me because the process seemed fast and innovative,” Casboni said. “You can build the homes quickly, and they’re secure. They’re durable, and they have an appealing, modern look.”
Casboni and Burton have never built container homes, but they’ve traveled throughout the states to look at container home communities, Burton said. What they saw solidified their decision, Casboni said.
“Container homes enhance communities,” Burton said. “That’s what we’re in the process of doing. The community can be elevated.”
Burton said Vincennes Village is an “innovative approach” to solving two nationwide problems: excess train containers and a housing shortage.
Empty train containers are “permeating our planet,” Burton said. And there is a “delinquency in homeownership, particularly in the wards not normally served by the city,” he said.
Their train container homes will repurpose a product that has been dormant and transform it into “something a lot more tangible,” Burton said.
Container homes can also be rehabbed and sold “in half the time and half the costs as a traditional wooden house,” Burton said.
Once their permits are approved, all they’ll have to do is connect the containers and design the inside, Burton said. The homes will be ready in three to four months, he said.
“When you compare a traditional home to a container home, you’ll come back to the container home,” Burton said. “The amenities are the same, but it requires less money, maintenance and upkeep. Homeownership becomes practical for everyone involved.”
Vincennes Village will appeal to working families living in the community who want to enhance their way of living, developers said.
The homes will be minutes away from the Dan Ryan Expressway, a shopping center and the 75th Street Boardwalk.
And if the $300,000 starting price looks steep, “a person paying $1,500 in rent in the neighborhood can afford the house,” Burton said.
Vincennes Village will start with 12 homes, but Burton and Casboni hope to add eight more down the line, they said. Commercial development isn’t off the table, they said.
“The South Side has numerous vacant lots. Our goal is to permeate the communities with an innovative approach to living,” Burton said. “The idea is taking off. We see this as the future of Chicago.”
Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: