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300 Apartments Near Obama Center Will Remain Affordable For Decades As Jackson Park Terrace Sells For $25 Million

The commitment to maintain affordable housing at Jackson Park Terrace comes as Woodlawn residents work to prevent displacement amid the Obama Center’s construction.

The Jackson Park Terrace apartment complex, 6040 S. Harper Ave. in Woodlawn.
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WOODLAWN — A sprawling apartment complex next to the Obama Presidential Center will remain affordable through the middle of the century and get $4 million in needed renovations, its new owners said.

The 318-unit Jackson Park Terrace Apartments, 6040 S. Harper Ave. in Woodlawn, were sold for $25 million to Jonathan Rose Companies and Preservation of Affordable Housing, the companies announced Thursday.

The complex hosts a mix of apartments affordable to residents making up to 60 percent of the area median income, or $62,520 for a four-person household; and apartments affordable to those making up to 80 percent of the area median income, or $83,350 for a four-person household.

The units will remain affordable at those levels through at least 2056 under the terms of the sale, said Nathan Taft, a partner at Jonathan Rose Companies.

“We feel that it is both an obligation and a privilege to preserve this historic development,” Taft said. “It is perhaps ironic that Jackson Park Terrace was created to provide affordable housing that the private market would not, [while] the need now is to protect this valuable asset from market pressures.”

The new owners will also spend $4 million to upgrade the property’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, make needed structural repairs and address deferred maintenance, Taft said.

Residents “should not be displaced for days on end” during the renovations, and “hospitality suites” will be provided in case they must leave the unit for a few hours as repairs are made, Taft said.

Health, employment, financial and youth development services will be provided to residents, said Bill Eager, Preservation of Affordable Housing’s Midwest senior vice president. They’ll be available both at Jackson Park Terrace and through the nonprofit’s Woodlawn Resource Center, 6144 S. Cottage Grove Ave.

Jackson Park Terrace’s high-rise and 25 low-rises were built in 1973 by the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation, the real estate arm of developer Leon Finney’s The Woodlawn Organization.

Finney and Apostolic Church of God‘s Bishop Arthur Brazier “took a chance and invested all they had — not only to provide affordable housing in Woodlawn, but to keep the community itself alive and hopeful,” Brazier’s son and Apostolic Church pastor Byron Brazier said in a statement.

“With Rose and POAH joining those of us who want to ensure that Woodlawn is [a] diverse and vibrant community … I am confident that we can realize the [Woodlawn Community Development Corporation’s] ambitious goals from a half-century ago,” Brazier said.

The new owners had been in talks with the community development corporation since 2017, the year before the corporation filed for bankruptcy, Taft said.

The complex resides on land leased from the University of Chicago through 2056. There’s “no chance” UChicago will take over Jackson Park Terrace or put its affordability at risk before then, and the university has been “a good partner” throughout the sale process, Taft said.

The commitment to maintain affordable housing at Jackson Park Terrace comes as Woodlawn residents work to prevent displacement amid the Obama Center’s construction. Their effort led to the city’s approval of housing protections for Woodlawn in 2020.

“The purchase of Jackson Park Terrace and a guarantee of long-term affordability and further investment is gratifying, and I hope a model for others drawn to Woodlawn at this time of renewal,” Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said in a statement.

Preservation of Affordable Housing bought the Island Terrace Apartments — just a few blocks down Stony Island Avenue from Jackson Park Terrace — in July 2021. The nonprofit pledged to make all 240 units at Island Terrace affordable for renters making 30 to 80 percent of the area median income.

Neither Jonathan Rose Companies nor Preservation of Affordable Housing have made a bid to develop vacant, city-owned land on 63rd Street under the 2020 housing protections, officials said.

But Preservation of Affordable Housing is considering whether to throw its hat in the ring, as the city recently issued a request for qualifications to develop two sites at 63rd Street and Ellis Avenue, Eager said.

“We’re going to take a look — we haven’t made a determination yet,” Eager said. “If we think it’s a good fit for us, then we might.”

Alongside Jackson Park Terrace, Jonathan Rose Companies is “heading toward a closing” later this summer on the Barbara Jean Wright Court apartments on the Near West Side. The group also recently bought the 13-building Englewood Gardens complex to preserve its affordable housing, according to the Tribune.

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