Chicago Megadevelopment Woodlawn Central Selects Transwestern for Multiple Real Estate Services
National commercial real estate firm will act as owner’s rep, providing brokerage, project services and capital markets advisory to the multi-phase equity-focused project on Chicago’s South Side
CHICAGO [March 14, 2023]—Woodlawn Central (WC), an 8-acre, $895 million mixed-use megadevelopment designed to be a catalyst for urban regeneration in Woodlawn, has hired Transwestern Real Estate Services as its commercial real estate services provider. With a diverse, minority-led team and a mission to spur transformative change in not only this undercapitalized neighborhood but also its contiguous neighborhoods, Woodlawn Central LLC felt Transwestern would be a best-in-class partner due to the organization’s broad, integrated capabilities and innovative, collaborative, client-focused business model.
J.C. Griffin of Transwestern’s Midwest Capital Markets Group will serve as owner representative through all phases of the development project, coordinating brokerage activities, marketing and research efforts, project capitalization and financing, and project/construction services. Griffin will report directly to J. Byron Brazier, the project sponsor and lead developer of WC.
Given Transwestern’s extensive experience, its strategic services will be invaluable in helping Woodlawn Central LLC position the project, which in part is sited in a qualified opportunity zone, for investment and prepare it for the necessary zoning entitlements to build a robust mix of community assets.
In addition to J. Byron Brazier, the LLC’s members—all leaders with deep experience in economic development or philanthropy—include Dr. Byron Brazier, Vince Lane, Mary Richardson-Lowry, Lisa Mazique and Don Thompson.
Transwestern brings a comprehensive skill set to Woodlawn Central
“Woodlawn Central has a broad scope because it’s been designed to bring significant economic benefits to an undercapitalized community in multiple ways. We wanted to partner with a firm that’s multifaceted, agile and has deep expertise in development, project management, investment services, public engagement and more. Transwestern checked all the proverbial boxes for us,” J. Byron Brazier, managing member of Woodlawn Central LLC, said.
Besides approximately 870 homes ranging from affordable workforce options to market rate, luxury and senior housing, Woodlawn Central will support a diverse range of Black businesses, creators, innovators and residents with much-needed community assets that go far beyond new housing. Among the project’s most exciting offerings are planned spaces for businesses of every ilk, a 154-room hotel, a black box theater, a vertical greenhouse and a microgrid energy facility. Its retail, hospitality, cultural, service, tech and transit options have been planned to nurture Black-owned businesses and generate substantial employment opportunities for residents.
“Woodlawn Central is not a straightforward mixed-use development. It carries weight far beyond its physical parameters and economics. Our most important criteria in selecting
Transwestern went beyond its deep expertise in real estate services. We also needed a partner that had an authentic, deeply rooted belief in the project,” Dr. Brazier, pastor of the Apostolic Church of God, explained.
“This is about more than building a one-off development, no matter how great it is. This is an opportunity to not only make a major impact on the surrounding communities and break negative social and economic cycles, but to also set an example for transformative, community generated development that can be repeated nationwide,” he continued.
“Transwestern is a values-based company that focuses on servicing and solving challenging issues and achieving optimal outcomes for our clients,” Griffin said. “We are looking forward to working with the Woodlawn Central LLC and a diverse, innovative team of architecture, engineering and construction professionals to create a wide range of sustainable economic development opportunities.
“Because it’s been designed with extensive community engagement and broad-reaching, regenerative goals, Woodlawn Central is a unique and compelling project that will have significant impact beyond its boundaries and for generations to come,” Griffin added.
Woodlawn Central was designed to meet its community’s wants and needs
Woodlawn Central has been intentionally designed with assets that have the potential to change the systemic inequities and economic blight that have plagued the neighborhood for decades. The 2022 Community Data Snapshot from the Chicago Metropolitan Planning Agency shows its residents are over 91% minority and its median and per capita household income numbers, $27,541 and $20,824 respectively, are among the lowest in the City, with medians that are $62,097 and $39,068 respectively. Woodlawn residents also have the City’s lowest median net worth among all 77 of Chicago’s community areas at $4,439 vs. the national median of $97,680.
The development was conceived of and planned under the aegis of Woodlawn’s Apostolic Church of God, which has over 20,000 members. Substantial input came from The Network of Woodlawn, which was founded in 2009 to improve the neighborhood’s quality of life by building infrastructure that supports better education, safety, health and economics.
“We based Woodlawn Central on the 2060 Woodlawn Community Plan for Urban Regeneration and Social Sustainability. It evolved from our work with The Network of Woodlawn over a three-year period, so we know it meets the community’s needs because there was such deep engagement from all quarters of Woodlawn,” J. Byron Brazier explained. “This is the first development to date that has been designed to offer a concrete, comprehensive and sustainable plan to spur exponential and ongoing economic development in Woodlawn.
“That’s why Woodlawn Central’s design incorporates technology, agriculture, retail, the visual and performing arts, and sustainability. It’s what the community said they wanted in the 2060 Plan. But most significantly, these are assets that set the stage for future neighborhood reinvestment,” J. Byron Brazier pointed out. “We want this to be a national model for the successful development of the Black community from the inside out, challenging the notion that gentrification is inevitable as urban places regenerate.”
About Woodlawn Central
Woodlawn Central (WC) is an 8-acre, $895M mixed-use megadevelopment designed to be a catalyst for urban regeneration in Woodlawn on Chicago’s South Side. It will serve as a new gateway to the broader Woodlawn community and transform the area into a walkable transit-oriented district with easy access to many significant civic amenities, including the Obama Presidential Center, Jackson Park, the Museum of Science and Industry, the University of Chicago and the lakefront. It was conceived of and planned under the aegis of Woodlawn’s Apostolic Church of God, which has over 20,000 members, and is based on The Network of Woodlawn’s 2060 Woodlawn Community Plan for Urban Regeneration and Social Sustainability. Besides approximately 870 homes ranging from affordable workforce options to market rate, luxury and senior housing, Woodlawn Central will support a diverse range of Black businesses, creators, innovators and residents with much-needed community assets.
About Transwestern Real Estate Services
Transwestern Real Estate Services (TRS) adds value for investors, owners and occupiers of all commercial property types through a comprehensive perspective and by providing solutions grounded in sound market intelligence. Part of the Transwestern companies, the firm applies a consultative approach to Agency Leasing, Asset Services, Tenant Advisory + Workplace Solutions, Capital Markets, and Research & Investment Analytics.
The privately held Transwestern companies have been delivering a higher level of personalized service and innovative real estate solutions since 1978. Through an integrated, customized approach that begins with good ideas, the firm drives value for clients across commercial real estate services, development, investment management, and opportunistic endeavors for high-net-worth investors. Operating from 33 U.S. offices, Transwestern extends its platform capabilities globally through strategic alliance partners whose unique geographic, cultural, and business expertise fuels creative solutions. Learn more at transwestern.com and @Transwestern.
Woodlawn Central LLC
Joyce Yang Transwestern Real Estate Services