Twin home development underway near Bukolt

By Brandi Makuski

Construction is finally underway for a new development near Bukolt Park.

Origin Family Homebuilders is constructing 10 units of twin homes—20 lots total—on a one-and-a-half-acre property on the 500 block of Fourth Ave., bordered by Frederick and Grant streets, and Washington Ave. to the south. The project was introduced to residents of the neighborhood during a presentation on Jan. 23 and approved by the city in February.

The land was previously home to Northwest Counseling and Guidance Clinic. The youth center had already planned to move out of the space, and has since relocated into an unused wing of the city’s police department on Michigan Ave.

Origin took ownership of the land in November, and according to developer Jeff Rice, it’s been a “race” against the winter weather ever since.

“We took down the school, dug a basement, got sewer and water hooked up, get the foundation in…yeah, we’ve been busy,” said Rice, Origin’s chief of business operations. “But it’s been really fun and exciting.”

Rice said during the demolition of the youth center, a resident in the neighborhood approached the crew to say he’d attended elementary school in the building 60 years before, and informed them of a time capsule his class had sealed into one of the walls.

“We were able to recover that, intact,” Rice said. “We plan to have a public event in January when we’ll open it and see what’s inside.”

City leaders say they’re excited about the project because it addresses two ongoing concerns noted in the city’s 2017 housing study: developing infill and construction of new, single-family homes.

Michael Ostrowski, community development director, said it’s rare for existing land inside the city to become available for development of new homes. The chance to increase the city’s tax base with quality homes is one the city doesn’t want to pass up, he said.

“As we get to the fringes [of city boundaries], land is very, very expensive, and we’re seeing the cost to run services to those lots doesn’t keep up with the pace of growth,” Ostrowski said, adding 2017 was a good year for commercial growth, but not single-family home construction—due to that shortage of available lots.

Rice said Origin saw the chance to develop the lot as a “big opportunity”, and in February told the city he expected the development to “kick-start revitalization on the north side”.

The zero-lot-line units should be available in the spring, he said, and he plans to have them featured in the 2019 Parade of Homes.

“We’re just working on the last of the marketing materials, and we’re looking at having those units sold as soon as we can.”

For more information go to originhomebuilders.com.