Investor buys another affordable home, this time next to the Obama Center

A New York City investor with a growing affordable housing portfolio has snapped up another property in Chicago, this time across the street from the future Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park on the South Side.

Jonathan Rose Cos., in partnership with Preservation of Affordable Housing, paid $25 million for the 318-unit Jackson Park Terrace at 6040 South Harper Ave. Company officials said they will preserve the building as affordable housing and spend about $4 million on improvements to its plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems, while POAH creates new health services and youth programs.

That should be good news for the surrounding Woodlawn and South Shore communities. Some fear that the Obama Center, whose builders began construction last September, could inflate local housing costs and expel working-class residents.

“We believe it is both an obligation and a privilege to preserve this historic development,” Nathan Taft, a partner at Jonathan Rose, said in a statement. “It is perhaps ironic that Jackson Park Terrace was created to provide affordable housing that the private market would not offer; the need now is to protect this valuable asset from market pressures.”

Jackson Park Terrace was developed in 1973 by the Woodlawn Community Development Corp., a nonprofit organization founded by the Rev. Leon Finney Jr., longtime director of The Woodlawn Organization. The nonprofit organization fell on hard times and filed for bankruptcy in 2018, after which many of its properties were auctioned off. Finney died in 2020.

But Taft said Jonathan Rose has the financial clout to hold onto affordable housing properties for many years to come, with the Chicago market being a primary focus. The company used its $525 million Rose V Affordable Housing Preservation Fund to complete the purchase of Jackson Park Terrace, and this year also bought Englewood Gardensa portfolio of 13 apartment buildings in the Englewood neighborhood, as well as Archer Courts, a 146-unit community in Chinatown.

POAH has also been quite active in the South Side affordable housing market, preserving or developing over 1,000 Woodlawn units over the last 10 years.

“Growing up, living on and representing Chicago’s South Side, I’ve seen both the good times and the tough times, including the challenging days when few were willing to provide the investments in homes, shops and jobs that all communities and people need,” he said. District 5th Ald. Leslie Hairston in a statement. “The purchase of Jackson Park Terrace and a guarantee of long-term affordability and increased investment is gratifying, and I hope it will be a model for others drawn to Woodlawn at this time of renewal.”

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