Skender Completes Occupied Rehab of Chicago’s Barbara Jean Wright Court Apartments

272-unit affordable housing project symbolizes forward movement for residents and community

On behalf of New York-based developer Jonathan Rose Companies (Rose), Skender has completed a full interior and exterior revitalization of the Barbara Jean Wright Court Apartments at 1000-1038 W 14th Street in Chicago’s University Village neighborhood.

After purchasing the deteriorating property from the Chicago Community Development Corporation in 2022 as its first Chicago-area project, Rose’s goal was to bring a more equitable distribution of opportunity to Chicago’s West side. It hired Skender as general contractor as well as Grund & Riesterer as architect, WT Group as mechanical engineer, RTM Engineering as civil engineer, and Rockey Structures as structural engineer. Skender teamed up with Tandem Ventures to manage regulatory compliance, maximize community engagement, and create local employment opportunities on the project.

The 18-month project involved a complicated occupied rehab of the 27-building, 272-unit property where residents needed to be relocated during 27 phases of energy efficiency and quality-of-life upgrades. Externally, the buildings received enhanced landscaping, energy-efficient windows, new roof shingles, brick masonry repairs and tuckpointing, new concrete sidewalks and asphalt parking lots and new entry gates tied to a sitewide security and campus entry system.

The renovated living units better meet the needs of the community by providing more efficient kitchens with dishwashers, updated bathrooms with ceramic tiled showers and new plumbing fixtures, new floor finishes, energy-efficient lighting fixtures, and HVAC plant upgrades.

“Barbara Jean Wright Court was 80-90% occupied at the time of the acquisition and construction start,” said Erik Amos, Skender Sr. Project Manager. “The most challenging part of an occupied rehab project is the logistics of planning for the relocation of existing residents. This required consistent, thoughtful communication between the owner, contractor, management team, relocation coordinators, and the tenant council and residents, in addition to City of Chicago agencies and aldermen.”

The project also included the ground-up construction of a contemporary 5,000-SF clubhouse that features a leasing office, conference rooms, computer lab, fitness center, classroom and a multipurpose room with a full-service kitchen and recording studio. The multipurpose room is available for private tenant events and will serve as a new centerpiece for community activity and gatherings.