Soko Commons Inching Along, Duplexes Coming to Randolph Street

A nice-sized multi-family development near 5th & Norris is progressing, but things are moving a little slower than we might have expected. A reminder, a project called Soko Commons is currently under construction at 2004 N. 5th St., a site that’s been vacant in recent years and was a scrap yard a couple decades back. The property is quite large, with frontage on 5th Street and Reese Street, and the project will bring two triplexes and two quadplexes on Reese Street, four triplexes to 5th Street, and a six-unit building to the corner of Reese & Norris.

We last checked in on┬áthe project back in the fall of 2019, as framing was getting underway for the first phase of the project on Reese Street. Given that this was about a year and a half ago, these buildings would be done and occupied by now in a normal world. But given that Covid made a mess of everyone’s construction timelines in 2020, we’re not entirely shocked to report that these buildings are seemingly close to completion but not there yet. That being said, the building at the corner of Reese & Norris seems to be progressing, and we imagine that all of the buildings on the Reese side of the project will be finished later this year.

Buildings on Reese Street
Corner of Reese & Norris

Once those buildings are done (and maybe sometime before), look for the triplexes to move forward on 5th Street. Those units will have a new construction duplex for a neighbor, as there’s a project at 2020 N. 5th St. which you can see next door currently getting some work done on its facade.

Next phase on 5th Street

That duplex won’t be the only duplex neighbor for Soko Commons, as there is a ton of construction getting started around the corner on the 2000 block of N. Randolph Street. Historically, this block was home to twin homes which were fairly unusual for the neighborhood, set back from the street, rising only two stories, and merging at a point. Only a few of those homes are left, however, with the rest of the east side of this block sitting vacant.

Awesome twins on Randolph
Construction on the block

A developer has been buying up properties on Randolph, however, and is now embarking on a project to build at least seven duplexes, all with parking accessed from Reese Street. These units are starting construction, and when all is said and done there will be new duplexes at 2011, 2019, 2021, 2025, 2029, 2037, and 2039. The vast majority of the other lots on the block are owned by City agencies.

While we welcome the construction of the new units and the replacement of long term vacancy, we find ourselves incredibly frustrated by the haphazard nature of this development. In a perfect world, the developer would have been able to combine and consolidate the vacant lots on the block and either build a single apartment building or at least a cohesive and coherent plan for the block. Instead, we’re getting piecemeal development, and half the lots on the block will continue to sit empty for who knows how long. On the one hand, the City is getting better at selling off its vacant lots through RFPs and encouraging the construction of affordable units. On the other hand, there’s still way too many lots in the inventory, and plenty of opportunity for properties to fall through the cracks.