Whatever Happened to Centro 18?

I was driving through Pilsen the other day on 18th Street and happened by two big empty lots with signs on them for Centro 18.

Remember this development?  They had ads in the paper about six to eight months ago.  The property is on 18th Street about a block west of Halsted in the “Pilsen Arts District.”

Their website is still operational but other than having some funky music and talking about the location there is no other information about prices or floorplans. The development was supposed to include condominiums, city homes and townhomes. (Don’t ask me what the difference is between a “city home” and a “townhome”.)

I managed to find some information about pricing. From a letter to the Sun-Times:

Henry Cisneros’ company, CityView, is a primary investor/developer behind an enormous mixed-use project called Centro 18, slated for construction in the heart of the Pilsen community. Of the 391 units in this project, 82 are designated affordable, and at sale prices ranging from $150,000 to $215,000. Market-rate units will sell for up to $699,000.

New construction has been moving south of the Metra tracks and into Pilsen for the last several years.  This would be the first large scale development in the Arts District area. Doesn’t look like much life there. Just empty lots.

That’s a bad sign.

9 Responses to “Whatever Happened to Centro 18?”

  1. Perhaps the problem is that the location is by railroad tracks. When I worked for the City, I saw some Environmental Impact Studies (EIS) for Pilsen. The trains carry dirt and smog into a neighborhood. That coupled with the old factories means that the air in Pilsen is not that clean.

    Just walk down Halsted and Cermak or anywhere along 18th street from Canal to Western and you can taste the smog.

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  2. SS: I doubt it’s the railroad tracks actually (or else every other town that has them would have the same problem.) And while there are several lines going near that area- there are a lot more in, say, the loop, than in Pilsen.

    It’s likely the expressways. There are two major expressways within blocks of the neighborhood.

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  3. Towns that have RR tracks do have higher pollution problems than you might think. However, smaller towns usually do not get the federal funds to do an EIS. The City of Chgo appropriates money for the studies plus the City gets federal funding. And yes, the expressways, factories and trucking do add to the problem.

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  4. SS: I’m sure trains add some pollution. Of course. But if it makes it really bad, then the entire city of Chicago is polluted because the trains are everywhere (as we ARE the railroad hub of the country.)

    With trains, I’d be more concerned about the noise issue (but that’s just me.) I have a friend who lives not far from the Dan Ryan and every year she has to do a cleaning of her apartment to get rid of a thin coat of black gook that coats everything. I would imagine there is a similar problem with living right on Lake Shore Drive. Thousands of cars drive past your windows everyday.

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  5. Centro 18 is just slow to start. Kimball Hill is stretched to the limit and overbuilt with their other developments. This project just hit at the wrong time for them. Once the market turns around (early 2010?) this project will go forward and Pilsen will explode. The same thing happened in East Village in 1989 when the market slowed just as it was on the precipice of change as Pilsen is now. When the market resumed in 1994 East Village was a bulldozer zone. In 10 years everyone will wonder what happened and why they didn’t buy during the lull.

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  6. Henry Cisneros never had much to do with the project. He was brought in to be a friendlier face to the neighborhood as they got their zoning. Kimball Hill is majority and controlling owner of the parcel.

    Kimball Hill made a bad deal with the local community groups and committed to do too much affordable housing. When they bid it out there costs were so high the deal didn’t work. It will likely be sold when they go bankrupt. Some in Pilsen will be happy that the development that would have brought new people into the neighborhood did not go forward, but in the long run it will be bad for the Pilsen.

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  7. The tracks and the xpway didn’t stop Bellgravia from putting up those townhomes on the other side of Halsted from Centro. I’m sure it was the bank’s cold feet that put a hold on this project. Prices in Pilsen have plunged steeply in the last two years. It’s close to downtown and has super public transportation options. If I had a little extra cash I’d start bottom fishing here on a multi-family near the ‘L’.

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  8. love Slevnik – centro is still dead. I drive by it a lot. There is a big sign and empty lot near a beat up warehouse.
    Anyone know what happened to it?

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  9. The property has been sold off to the Jesuits for about $6M. They plan on using it to crate private housing for Chicago Priest. It’s a shame…such prime real estate going to a non-for-profit!

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