Ronald J. Benach
Ronald J. Benach

At 90 years old, Chicago-area home building pioneer Ronald J. Benach died May 6 in Boca Raton, Florida. During his career of more than six decades, Benach built 50,000 homes as well as commercial and residential developments in both the rental and for-sale sectors, and founded several successful companies including 3H Development.

After selling 3H Development to U.S. Homes in 1972, Benach founded Lexington Homes—the largest volume home builder in Chicago until he sold it to Westinghouse in 1989—and Concord Homes that he sold to Lennar in 2002. His fourth venture was the second iteration of Lexington Homes that he founded in 2006. The firm continues to build homes in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, specializing in row homes in urban infill and suburban downtown sites and luxury single-family home communities.

Benach split his time between Chicago and Boca Raton, and he continued to come into Lexington’s Chicago office where he served as chairman, working alongside his son, Jeff Benach.

“The only thing my dad loved more than the home building industry was his family—there’s no one who taught me more about this business, and I’m so lucky to have worked alongside him for all of these years,” says Jeff Benach, principal of Lexington Homes.

“The number of people who have lived in a home that he helped build runs into the six figures, and it never stops to amaze me when I run into someone who will say ‘I once lived in a Concord/Lexington home.’ Yet he always said ‘It’s not how many homes we build that matters. It’s how well we build each one.’ He was truly loved by all our staff and business partners for his great sense of humor and the stories he shared.”

Among a handful of other developers, Benach was responsible for building most of the homes in the northwest suburbs beyond O’Hare International Airport, when the area grew in population in the 1960s and '70s. Successfully leading his firms through various economic cycles as well as lifestyle and demographic shifts, he consistently adapted home designs to serve residents’ changing needs. He pioneered the “coach home” in the 1970s and designed today’s urban row homes’ work-from-home flex spaces. He was not afraid to make bold, innovative choices to enhance the way people lived, according to the company.

Services to honor Benach were held in Boca Raton, and another private service is planned for family and friends in Chicago.