Ever wonder what's going on in that forlorn area at Roosevelt Road and Campbell Street, that awkward space between Tri-Taylor, North Lawndale, and the Illinois Medical District? It's the failed Metro Place development, a 150-unit planned space that only ever completed a fraction of those before shutting down. Now, though, the area is showing signs of life again: Eco Development has resumed building on the site and is now tweaking the designs and greening the dwellings, hoping to start selling the new units in the coming months. 

A little history: Before the housing bust, Metro Place developer Daniel McLean succeeded in building 17 single-family homes and six condos. In June 2013, six years after the last of those sold, Eco Development bought the remaining 4.7 acres of undeveloped land for just over $1 million. They will try and make good on the other 127 units in the approved PD (59 town homes, 54 condos, and 14 single-family homes).

Operating under the banner name Smart Tech Homes, Eco Development has small clusters of energy efficient houses and condos around the near northwest side. Even with the three-dozen condos they’ve recently deployed in East Village, this project is an entirely new scale. Single-family houses will comprise the first construction phase, and two of the 14 have already been built as models. Priced at $419,000 and $429,000 (the pitched roof model), work will officially kick off later this week.

Architect John Hanna of Hanna Architects is designing five facades and a couple of different layouts, and by and large the newcomers will complement the already-built stock. Each house will have four bedrooms, three full and one partial bathroom, and a finished lower level; a two-car garage and yard also come standard. Community green space is preserved in the site plan. Blocks north and east of here are packed with impressively old row homes in a range of conditions, but this development site occupies its own little nebulous world.

“The area is a little off the radar, for sure,” says co-listing agent Staci Slattery of The Biazar Group. “But it’s close to transit (Green and Blue Lines), the Eisenhower, Pete’s Fresh Market, beautiful Douglas Park, and the Cinespace film studios and new Lagunitas Brewery.”

Each unit built in the three phases will be Energy Star 3.0 certified as are Eco Development's Smart Tech Homes, according to Slattery, with 50 to 60 percent less energy consumption than standard new construction under the Home Energy Rating System (HERS). An EPA certification program similar to LEED, Energy Star 3.0 offers builders a menu of sustainable construction credits to collect points toward certification. Among the dozen or so practices that Eco Development adopted for its Smart Tech Homes and will now apply to Eco Square, the biggies have to do with improved insulation, better air seals, heat recovery ventilation (HRV), properly sized HVAC systems, and high quality doors and windows. An inspector checks each completed home for compliance.

The full set of detached houses will be available by summer, and the timetable for completion of all three phases is based on the pace of sales. “Once they get five to seven homes under contract, they’ll break ground on town homes along Roosevelt, followed by those on Grenshaw and the condos,” says Slattery. A grand opening bash is scheduled for this Thursday, January 22, where the models will be showcased.

Karen Biazar and Slattery are the exclusive listing agents for Eco Square.

Eco Square site plan, bounded by Roosevelt, Campbell, Grenshaw, and railroad tracks