A home under construction

As the warmth and ease of this sunny season kick in, many people dream of owning a summer home. In Benton Harbor, Michigan, an ambitious residential development around a golf course, also comes freighted with dreams of healing entrenched poverty and racial division and of restoring spoiled industrial land.

Harbor Shores is a 530-acre development that so far has 22 homes occupied of the 500 that are supposed to be built over the next 20 years. Touring the place on Monday, I saw a lovely setting where woods, golf greens, the Paw Paw River, and home sites are woven together.

A less visible thread is the social mission. The three nonprofit foundations that own the project “see this as a transformative opportunity,” Kerry Wright, the project’s sales director, told me. Via the foundations, proceeds from the development are all to be invested in Benton Harbor, a city that has struggled for decades, as Alex Kotlowitz detailed in The Other Side of the River. But as the New York Times explained last December, the project hasn’t been without controversy.

Nevertheless, it’s an attempt to use real-estate development for a larger good—and it’s a 95-minute drive from the Loop. Click through the photos below for a tour.