Annual Holsten Human Capital Development Gala

Jackie Taylor Holsten and Peter Holsten acknowledged for their work.
Jackie Taylor Holsten and Peter Holsten      acknowledged for their work.

Annual Holsten Human Capital Development Gala

Chicago Real Estate Mogul Peter Holsten Along with Philanthropist, and Formerly Homeless Resident – to be Honored at Annual Holsten Human Capital Development (HHCD) Gala – October 29th

There are 14 properties in the portfolio of Holsten Real Estate which provide housing for over 4,000 residents and  over 80% are African American!!

Known as “Mister Fix-it” since childhood, Peter Holsten purchased his first building right out of college, rehabbing it and turning it into 15 low-income apartments. This was only the beginning of what would become his career as one of the most respected developers in affordable housing.

Highly effective in his ability to pull funding together from multiple sources using layered financing, Peter has earned his reputation for being a person who gets the job done. In 1986 he purchased, rehabbed, and created a 77 unit affordable housing building in Edgewater and 154 unit building in Albany Park; in 1989 he purchased, rehabbed, and developed The Sutherland at 47th & South Drexel Boulevard; projects at Madison & Hamlin on the West side and Winthrop & Rosemont on the North side followed, each resulting in affordable housing for those in the community.

Peter went on to develop Northtown Village in former Cabrini Green, Hilliard Towers on Cermak Road, and Wilson Yards on Broadway, and is currently renovating Lawson House on Chicago Avenue, which will be house 500+ in need of affordable housing, and doing the historic rehab of The Strand on 63rd & Cottage Grove which will open November 2015 with 63 affordable apartments.

To date, Peter has purchased and rehabbed/built 14 properties around Chicago, resulting in affordable housing for over 4,000 residents. Comments Peter Holsten “I did not set out to be one of the best-known affordable housing builders in the City of Chicago … but I do feel that affordable housing and I were meant to be. As a kid, I recall observing in public the mistreatment of people based on race and income and being appalled by the injustice. I believe everyone deserves to live in dignity. So at least I can help the less fortunate with their housing needs. That’s what my company does. In terms of the Lawson House, for this gold coast area, this is it. Right here. That’s why it’s so important to save the property – because without it, there would be a lot of people looking for housing and maybe not finding it.”

The Senior Vice President of Holsten Real Estate Development Corp is Jackie Taylor Holsten, formerly with the City Hall department of Planning & Development and a long time affordable housing expert …is also President of the board of Holsten Human Capital Development, a not for profit what provides much needed social services to residents – – HHCD not for profit is also co-developer of the Historic Strand, opening the first of November on South Cottage Grove as well as the Lawson House on Chicago Avenue, which houses over 500 low income residents (65% of which are African Americans who have moved up from homelessness).

Back Left to Right:- Lynell Dillon, Varnell Dillon, community member, Alderman Walter Burnett, Jackie Holsten, and Raymond McDonald Front Left to Right:- Mysha Evan, Angela Smith, Cabrini Green Local Advisory Council president Carol Steele, community member, Sheila Smith
Back Left to Right:- Lynell Dillon, Varnell Dillon, community member, Alderman Walter Burnett, Jackie Holsten, and Raymond McDonald
Front Left to Right:- Mysha Evan, Angela Smith, Cabrini Green Local Advisory Council president Carol Steele, community member, Sheila Smith

In 2004, Erma Medgyesy visited Lawson House, and she immediately became an indispensable part of Lawson’s support community, consistently staying on top of the latest news, gaining familiarity with programs and events, and meeting residents, staff, and board members. A decade ago, she a member of the board of directors for the George Shields Foundation, Erma knew she wanted to give funds to help the Lawson House residents, as giving support to the homeless was very much a commitment of the late George Shields. Due in part to over $250,000 in funding Erma has provided, Lawson has been able to build additional rooms, assist with food pantry and market days, provide food and gifts for holiday activity and events, procure bus passes and shopping cards, offer tickets to see the circus, movies, and theater plays, and do much, much more. Erma’s dedication to Lawson House has made a profound difference, and is well-loved by its staff, board, and residents alike.

Douglas Black enjoyed several successful years with jobs at which he excelled: he sold windows, siding and shingles, and later went on to try his hand as an energy auditor for multiple large companies, before the recession and his failed marriages took their toll; a Black found himself living outdoors in the Loop and in Lincoln Park, having pawned the last of his photography equipment with which he’d been doing unpaid freelance work for over thirty years. Always one to do whatever he needed, Black accepted the compassion and generosity of programs and institutions who made it their mission to help the homeless and the disadvantaged rise above their circumstances.

Today, he lives comfortably at Lawson House where he also volunteers, collecting donated fresh produce and bakery items from local grocers for fellow residents. His stable living environment has allowed Douglas to work in a variety of temp jobs: a fruit vendor, a product rep at big box stores, and a fan photographer and Cubs and White Sox games. He’s also recently earned his credentials as an insurance provider and is working on reconnecting with his three adult children. While at Lawson, he has gained the time to regroup, find work, and even get another camera. Says Black, “Holsten Human Capital Development (HHCD) has provided me with much need social services support, I am stronger than I was, and with their assistance I’m able to do photography again. Knowing how much I love baseball – and how much I love to photograph games – they’ve provided me with tickets to ballgames where I’ve been able to take of 300 photos. I’ve even self-published three photography books, which I think will be my legacy for my kids.”

This month, Peter, Erma, and Douglas will be honored by Holsten Human Capital Development (HHCD), the non-profit arm of Holsten Real Estate, which owns and manages Lawson House, each receiving an award acknowledging their accomplishment – Peter for his 40 years in Real Estate, Erma for her philanthropic partnership, and Douglas for his inspiring story as a resident — at HHCD’s annual fundraiser.

The event will take place on Thursday, October 29, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. in Loyola’s Kasbeer Hall (15th floor of Corboy Law Center) located at 25 E Pearson – the evening will include music, drinks, scrumptious food and the awards presentation – tickets are $100 and tax deductible as allowed by law – to purchase tickets or make a contribution , contact Sharon Wilson at or (312) 274-9122

Rendering of the newly restored Strand Hotel
Rendering of the newly restored Strand Hotel


Peter Holsten realized this need years ago … he was even profiled on 60 Minutes for his innovations in affordable housing for his commitment to helping all live with dignity and in appropriate housing … his 14 developments are all over Chicago … the current ones being the historic re-hab of the Strand (Hotel) on 63rd & Cottage Grove – opening November 1  – with 62 new affordable homes and retail space in a property that was dormant for over a decade and contributing to the revitalization of the Woodlawn community – and the historic rehab of Lawson House on Chicago/Dearborn (formerly the YMCA) that will continue to provide housing to over 500 – – who are moving up from homelessness.

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