Valley Homes was built in 1941 as a 350-unit temporary housing development for employees and the families of the war-time production industry employed at the Wright Airplane Plant (now G.E.). After the war, the units were purchased by an African American Co-op of service men and women returning from the war. This site has historical significance as the only war-time housing that had 100 percent African American purchasers and located at the only 100 percent African American-controlled municipality in the United States.
Valley Homes was plagued by problems from the beginning. When the project was completed, it was reported to have come in $35,000 under budget. Much of the cost savings was realized due to construction techniques that have proven to be problematic over the lifetime of the homes. Because the structures were poorly built, and the residents were overcharged to purchase the property in 1954, Valley Homes continued to face a substantial financial burden and a constant struggle to keep up with maintenance. In 2008, the threat of foreclosure was imminent and the property was condemned, and over 100 seniors currently living at the site were on the verge of homelessness.
In 2006, the Model Group became aware of the threat to Valley Homes, a much needed-affordable housing community and important piece of African American history, in Lincoln Heights. CEO Steve Smith began meeting with a redevelopment task force made up of the residents of Valley Homes and the court-appointed receiver to discuss plans for a complete demotion and revival of the Valley Home sites.
What would later become a complete multi-phased redevelopment named Villas of the Valley was born. The reinvented Villas was designed with the community, its rich history and target senior market in mind.
The first phase of Villas of the Valley included the new construction of 42 senior cottages and the demolition and rebuilding of a 2,400 square foot community center. Phase II completed the demolition of the remaining vacant and decaying buildings on the site and in their place created a $6.7 million development of 35 rental townhomes. The final Villas phase is currently underway as a homeownership project with the construction of five single family homes that will be available for purchase mid to late spring 2012.
The Development Solution
The construction and development teams choose to utilize a cul-de-sac design rather than the current grid structure for the new Villas housing development. Using the combination of cul-de-sacs with detached villas achieves a healthy balance between privacy and density, independence and interdependence, all the while retaining a quaint neighborhood atmosphere. At the end of 2011, Model Construction successfully completed the demolition of the functionally obsolete and dilapidated housing, rebuilt 77 new housing units for seniors, and constructed a brand new community center.
Detached, two bedroom villas include a garage, energy-efficient mechanical, electric and plumbing systems; new hardwood floors, ceramic tile kitchens and bathroom floors, high efficiency furnaces and air conditioning, all new Energy Star appliances, and high quality finishes and cabinetry.
Incorporation of OHFA's highest standard for universal design in every senior cottage, as well as 20% of cottages fully ADA accessible.
Provided adequate storage space through creative architectural design.
Utilized Green Construction techniques to lower operating and maintenance costs.
Community Center with 2,400 square feet of interior and 1,200 square feet of exterior shared recreational space.
Commitment to Economic Inclusion and HUD Section 3 Program - Phase I: 33% of total construction cost subcontracted to Section 3 Businesses; Phase II: 53% of total construction cost subcontracted to Section 3 Businesses
Average rate of 42% construction employment of current or former Lincoln Heights' residents.