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Chicago celebrates major affordable housing renovation near future Obama Presidential Center

The Chicago Department of Housing and the Woodlawn community recently celebrated the groundbreaking of Island Terrace, a renovation spearheaded by the Preservation of Affordable Housing.

Island Terrace is a 21-story, 240-unit affordable family high rise located two blocks south of the future site of the Obama Presidential Center and across from Jackson Park in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago. The acquisition of Island Terrace preserves the affordability of these apartments without displacing current tenants.

Durbin and Peters joined POAH President/CEO Aaron Gornstein, Chicago Housing Commissioner Lissette Castaneda, IHDA Executive Director Kristin Faust and HUD Great Lakes Administrator Diane M. Shelley at the groundbreaking.

“Decades of disinvestment that took place on the South Side may take decades to reverse, but turning the tide starts with creating more affordable housing and preserving the affordable housing we already have,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.

“Groups like POAH are helping preserve the legacy of Woodlawn by allowing those who have been mainstays of the community to share in the economic opportunity. The world came to Woodlawn in 1893 for the World’s Fair and Woodlawn will be back in the international spotlight in 2026 with the opening of the Obama Presidential Center.  The people of Woodlawn will be ready, and I will continue to support federal funding for affordable housing with projects like the Island Terrace Apartments that we celebrate today.”

“When you are doing a preservation project of this magnitude, it’s easy to get lost in all the details of construction and financing but at the end of the day, the process is really about making sure the people who live here have a quality, affordable, safe place to live for the long term, said Bill Eager, Senior Vice President, Real Estate Development POAH Midwest.

“I have lived in the building since 1997 and for years I have watched them put band aids on everything, but we are so joyful that this rehab is taking place and that POAH has received the resources to get us together here,” said Island Terrace resident Bernadine Gibson.  “We love this building – the location and nearby transportation. So I just want to thank everybody.”

The City of Chicago, IHDA (Illinois Housing Development Authority) and HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) all provided substantial and critical investments.

The project will update longstanding plumbing and electrical issues and modernize the building’s 240 units, including new kitchens and baths.

Island Terrace is one of the largest preservation deals in Woodlawn since the City of Chicago passed the Woodlawn Preservation Ordinance in 2020 to minimize displacement following news of the OPC being built in Jackson Park. In 2021, POAH joined forces with the Jonathan Rose Cos. to acquire and preserve Jackson Park Terrace, a 318-unit affordable community just north of Island Terrace. Since 2010 POAH has built or acquired 1,354 homes in Woodlawn.

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