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CHICAGO-With the addition of LISC to the development team, Woodlawn Park II, LLC and city officials are hoping a 210-unit project has smoother sailing than its much smaller first phase. The $74.3-million single-family, condominium and townhouse throughout parts of six city blocks near 63rd Street and Woodlawn Avenue is the second phase following a 31-unit start.

Woodlawn Park II, which includes Davis Group and Magellan Development Services, will get $12.8 million in tax increment financing under a proposal endorsed Tuesday by the Community Development Commission. In addition, the city is selling land recently appraised at $7.8 million for less than half–$3.8 million.

Although members of the Woodlawn Organization showed up in support of the project, it got a lukewarm endorsement from 20th Ward Alderman Arenda Troutman. “It would be unprecedented for a project to move forward without the support of the alderman,” says Troutman, adding the first phase has been beset by problems with roofs, foundations, mold and other issues.

“Developers have missed deadlines, after deadlines after deadlines,” Troutman says. However, she says she will support the 210-unit second and third phases because it provides 42 townhouse and three-flat units at prices qualifying under the city’s affordable housing initiative.

Developers note the rate of homeownership in the area is 16%, according to the 2000 census. They hope to break ground next spring, start delivering units by the end of 2006 and complete construction in 36 months.

“This seems to be a great development for the area and it seems ambitious,” says commission member Rafael Leon, who questioned whether the development’s group financing structure allows it to meet its goals. “I’d hate to have the developer come back here a year or two from now.”

However, Woodlawn Park II team members say they have at least five viable financing proposals from national lenders, who are waiting for city approvals before making formal commitments. “The banks want to see the final agreement,” says architect Jim Loewenberg, whose Magellan Group is involved in the Lakeshore East project. “The institutions are ready to go and we’re ready to go. We’re waiting for the city.”

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