Habitat planning townhouse project near Glen Ellyn

Construction is expected to begin early next year on a $2.8 million, 12-unit townhouse development by DuPage Habitat for Humanity in an unincorporated area near Glen Ellyn.

Habitat bought the vacant 2-acre property on Route 53 north of Butterfield Road from another nonprofit group, Community Housing Association of DuPage, which had planned a 16-unit affordable housing project there. But the market turned and the original project fell through.

Now, Habitat is resurrecting the project — albeit scaled down — thanks in part to a $1.26 million grant from the county and private donations. This month, Habitat received a $115,500 grant from Minneapolis-based Thrivent Financial for Lutherans to fund about half the construction cost of one unit.

Sarah Brachle, DuPage Habitat’s executive director, said the number of planned homes was cut from 16 to 12 to make room for a larger cul-de-sac so snow plows can get through.

Several companies also have pledged in-kind products and services — not to mention the volunteer labor expected from businesses, churches and civic groups that drives Habitat’s efforts.

The project, named Prairie Green, has received approvals from the county board and Glen Ellyn officials are reviewing a subdivision plan, Brachle said.

Habitat is aiming to have the project be “green” by building to LEED certification standards. The group’s last development, the Pioneer Prairie subdivision of 11 houses in West Chicago, has been built to the Energy Star certification level, Brachle said.

The final homes of Pioneer Prairie, located at Sherman and Pomeroy Streets, are expected to be complete early next year, after construction began in June 2009.

Brachle said DuPage Habitat evaluates potential homeowners based on a demonstrated need and ability to repay a 30-year mortgage. They also must live or work in DuPage County and be willing to dedicate 250 hours of “sweat equity” by helping build the homes.

Meanwhile, officials are continuing fundraising efforts for the planned Glen Ellyn project.

“It continues to be challenging (to fundraise) in this economy, but we were successful with the last development,” Brachle said.

Construction is expected to start in February or March, with five units planned for 2012 and seven for 2013. The project should be complete by the end of 2013.

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