Chances are, if you’ve taken a drive through Bronzeville recently, the name “Jacob da Builder” sounds somewhat familiar. Our partner, Frank Montro sat down with Jacob Dochee so we could get a feel for how he’s changing the historic Bronzeville housing market.
A lot of people say I should go up North because my look is a nice North Side look. But this is already happening all over up there. What am I gonna prove? I like this area because it has a lot of potential. I’m from the area, down at 49th. My father owned a lot of buildings in Bronzeville—hundreds of homes—doing REOs in the 1960s. He was buying Greystones for $2,000, $1,500. If he bought a few, the mayor would give him extra lots to redevelop for a buck.
Other developers get mad at me for selling cheap, calling me up saying I’m driving the market down. It’s not really about that for me. I believe in selling homes to families and leaving equity in there. That wasn’t happening when the market crashed. My competitors are selling similar homes for $200,000 more than mine. They sit on the market longer, but do eventually sell. I believe in leaving $100,000 to $150,000 in homes instead of maxing out and sucking everything out of a deal.
I love it when people move in these homes and start crying. Sometimes it’s a middle-aged buyer in their first home. I did a two-flat at 7234 South Lafayette. The buyer was 80 years old and never owned a home in her life. She bought it with her daughter, who moved in upstairs.