A rendering of three flat modular units. A rendering of three flat modular units.

CHICAGO—An advanced manufacturing plant, which will produce steel modular housing units that will help expand affordable housing options in the City of Chicago, has launched operations here.

A ribbon cutting was staged yesterday at Skender’s new facility at 3348 S. Pulaski on the Southwest Side of the city. Skender, a Chicago-based construction, design and manufacturing firm, will create modular buildings using a new cost-effective and sustainable method, allowing for faster development of affordable housing, hospital and healthcare buildings for Chicago and elsewhere.

Skender’s new manufacturing facility will create 150 new full-time jobs once operations reach full capacity, the company states. Skender is headquartered at 1330 W Fulton Market in the Fulton District of Chicago.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined a host of community and business leaders at the ribbon cutting program. “The new Skender advanced manufacturing facility is a win-win for Chicago; generating job growth on the Southwest side while advancing a creative solution to address the affordable housing shortage,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “We will work with residents, community leaders and developers across the city to ensure every Chicagoan has a safe and affordable place to live. The addition of new modular units will improve access to sustainable housing, prevent homelessness, and ensure that as Chicago grows all of our neighbors can afford to grow too.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at the ribbon-cutting event at the Skender manufacturing facility. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at the ribbon-cutting event at the Skender manufacturing facility.

“We are proud to join the city today in opening our new production facility that will revolutionize the way we address the affordable housing crisis,” said Mark Skender, CEO, Skender. “Our new facility in Little Village combines the highest quality building materials, cost-effective building practices and a premier workforce to construct sustainable and long-lasting homes faster than ever before, and for the communities that need it most.”

Skender notes that in addition to three-flats construction, the firm will also produce mid-rise multifamily, hospitality and healthcare buildings.

The first modular three-flat will be installed in the Humboldt Park neighborhood as part of 10 affordable-rate, three-flat apartment buildings assembled on currently vacant lots in the 27th Ward. Each three-flat consists of 12 modules, totaling approximately 3,750 square feet per building, featuring three two-bedroom, one-bathroom units with modern finishes.

The initial project in the 27th ward is being led by Chicago-based developer, Sterling Bay, which has committed to investing in affordable housing opportunities throughout the city, and potentially partnering with affordable housing nonprofit organizations to lease and manage the units. As the Skender facility grows to full capacity, Sterling Bay is planning to build affordable housing on more than 100 lots throughout the city, partnering with affordable housing nonprofit organizations to lease and manage the units. In addition, the firm is planning a seven-story, 83-unit, 92,000-square-foot modular apartment building at 1100 W. Grand Ave. to start during the first quarter of 2020.

The steel-frame three-flats for Sterling Bay will be completed and ready for occupancy in a nine-week production schedule—80% faster than conventional construction methods—and at a 5% to 20% lower project cost, depending on the comparable delivery method, Skender states.

“We believe all Chicagoans should have the opportunity to live in well-designed homes that are affordable and enhance the surrounding neighborhood,” said Andy Gloor, CEO of Sterling Bay. “Skender has thoughtfully addressed how to deliver affordable housing in a way that is effective and scalable and can make a real difference across the city of Chicago.”

Another new development led by the Preservation of Affordable Housing, called the Garfield Green, will soon add affordable rental units to the East Garfield Park Community.

In addition to the 150 new manufacturing jobs, Skender has committed to hiring locally for installation by partnering with Communities for Construction. To help source, train and prepare the workforce for specialized careers in manufacturing, Skender has partnered with Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, Cara Chicago, Heartland Alliance, Chicago Women in Trades, Central States SER and the Jane Addams Resource Corp.