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CHICAGO-McShane Construction Co. has begun work on the second phase of a project which, when completed, will offer 118 units of affordable housing. The two-building development was planned by nonprofit affordable housing developer The Resurrection Project, and is currently under construction by McShane in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. One of the two buildings in the development.

“Pilsen is one of Chicago’s largest Hispanic neighborhoods, and that community is no different than any other,” Jason Breden, senior project manager with McShane, tells GlobeSt.com. “As the population is aging, The Resurrection Project has noticed a need for senior housing. It really ties the whole area together, and having this new construction gives the area a nice look and provides new features and opportunities for people in the community.”

The first building in the development, the seven-story Casa Morelos, will offer 45 affordable rental units at 2015 S. Morgan Street when it is completed this summer. The second building, the five-story Casa Maravilla, will offer 73 affordable senior rental units at 2021 S. Morgan Street. Construction has just begun on Casa Maravilla, which will offer studio through two-bedroom units ranging from 440 to 820 square feet, and it is expected to deliver in summer 2010.

Designed by Weese Langley Weese, the development is registered with the Chicago Green Homes program, a city-operated permitting system promoting green practices. The project includes plans for a green roof, geothermal HVAC system, eco-friendly elevator structure, weather-resistant windows, ENERGY STAR appliances, and permeable pavement. The building will also offer amenities including a dining area, community room, therapy room, library and recreation room.

“The downturn of the economy has definitely helped construction pricing and we’ve been able to get very competitive pricing for materials and labor,” Breden says. “One of the concerns now as more and more companies go out of business is that the labor force could be reducing. We want to be sure we have the labor force available to complete the building.”

Despite this concern, Breden says one silver lining is that affordable housing is in demand now more than ever. In fact, McShane and The Resurrection Project are looking to team up again and are currently pursuing additional land on which to develop more affordable housing and/or student housing in the Pilsen area.

“This is one of the few product types that is really out and available still for general contractors to chase in a tough market,” he says.

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