Pullman/Roseland NSP Open House Tour: Unique homes at affordable prices
Sixteen miles due south of Chicago’s downtown skyscrapers, overlooking the Bishop Ford Expressway and a golf course that was built on top of a landfill, sits the high rise U.S. Bank building, whose shadow falls on the Pullman and Roseland neighborhoods surrounding it.
Prospective homebuyers visit an open house in the Roseland neighborhood.
Photos by Bill Healy
It was there on a recent Saturday that a group of prospective homebuyers prepared to tour a handful of rehabbed houses in Roseland and Pullman that are now for sale to people of modest means. The formerly foreclosed and vacant properties had been acquired through the federally-funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), which makes targeted investments on blocks that have been victimized by foreclosures.
The historic Pullman neighborhood, characterized by stylish row houses on leafy residential streets, had its roots in the late 19th century, when Chicago was the bustling hub of a nationwide network of railroads. George Pullman created a railroad car that also allowed people to sleep comfortably. The so-called “sleeper cars” were in such high demand that Pullman built a town – named after himself – to house the workers who manufactured the railroad cars. A decade or so later, it was annexed by the City of Chicago.
In the past century, Pullman’s fate has risen and fallen on numerous occasions – labor strife, the demise of the passenger rail business, the general collapse of industrial manufacturing. Its historic streets and public buildings, including the Hotel Florence, have seen their ups and downs, too, as developer interest has waxed and waned.
Historic row houses in the Pullman neighborhood have been rehabbed through NSP and are now available for sale to buyers of modest means.
In 2009, U.S. Bank took control of the mammoth office building on 111th Street when it acquired Park National Bank. Park National folded after suffering devastating losses early in the financial crisis. The community bank had long-standing ties to various neighborhood organizations in and around Pullman. When U.S. Bank took over, its leaders vowed to stay active in building up the surrounding neighborhoods. They created the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, a non-profit agency that helps to spur economic development and growth in the area.
Today the neighborhood is on an upswing, thanks to two major building projects currently under construction - a multi-million dollar Salvation Army youth center and a Wal-Mart, both near 111th Street.
It’s an exciting time for Pullman and neighboring Roseland with the prospect of investment and jobs.
Greenspace abounds in nearby Palmer Park.
At the NSP Open House, Alderman Anthony Beale (9th) told the assembled crowd, “We’re so blessed to be continuing to move forward in this economy…I’m so excited about the potential of our community. I’m just busting out at the seams.”
Alderman Beale wasn’t the only person excited by the neighborhoods’ prospects.
Longtime Roseland resident Ruby Jones came to the NSP Open House with her sister. Ms. Jones is retired and lives in a small apartment in the neighborhood.
“I like Roseland,” she said. “I know a lot of people from having lived in the neighborhood for so many years. I feel comfortable here.”
“It used to be The American Dream was easier to obtain,” she added. “But nowadays it just seems like it’s harder. There’s so much uncertainty.”
Jones came to the open house mostly out of curiosity.
“I’m just looking for something that’s mine,” Jones said. “I had neighbors over my head that played loud music and people fighting and I just don’t want that anymore. I just want to be in a place [where] I got upstairs and down and I don’t have to worry about nobody over my head.”
Developer David Doig and 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale at the NSP Open House Tour.
Jones says she loved one of the houses she saw on the tour. It had an open floor plan and everything flowed from one space to the other. She was impressed with the huge bathrooms and the living room with a great big closet right when you walk in the door. Not to mention the ample storage and an upstairs washer and dryer.
A trolley carried potential homebuyers from house to house. Upon returning to the U.S. Bank building, the potential homebuyers were treated to a free lunch, with a sweeping view of downtown. Over lunch they listened intently as representatives from Neighborhood Housing Services and U.S. Bank offered advice to potential homebuyers.
Elia Reyes works for U.S. Bank where she oversees several loan officers, many of whom were in attendance at the open house. The loan officers offered encouragement and advice to interested parties.
“First time homebuyers need to understand the complexities of putting together their loan application,” Reyes said. “They need to have a good idea of what credit is and what options are available to them for restructuring their finances before purchasing a home.
“We work very closely with Neighborhood Housing Services to assist homebuyers. They do the homebuyer counseling and we partner with them to provide the right program for first-time homebuyers.”
Will Towns, of Mercy Portfolio Services, narrates the NSP Open House Tour.
Will Towns, the regional vice president for Mercy Portfolio Services, which with the City of Chicago administers NSP in Chicago, told the assembled crowd not to underestimate the importance of all these groups uniting in common purpose. In Pullman and Roseland alone, NSP works with Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (the non-profit development arm of U.S. Bank), Neighborhood Housing Services, the City of Chicago’s Department of Housing and Economic Development and Mercy Portfolio Services.
“No one entity, no one institution, no one private developer can really change these neighborhoods,” said Towns. “But as a collection we can really have a positive impact.”
NSP houses for sale in Pullman:
10713 S. Cottage Grove Ave., 10742 S. Champlain Ave., 10744 S. Champlain Ave.
NSP houses for sale in Roseland:
49 W. 108th St.
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