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Historic Rosenwald Rehab is Approved

Monday, October 14, 2013

Historic Rosenwald Rehab is Approved by City of Chicago Finance Committee

The long awaited rehabilitation of the historic Rosenwald Building located at 4600 South Michigan Avenue in the 3rdWard moved closer to reality with the passage of an ordinance authorizing the use of $25 million in tax increment financing (TIF) funds and $58.6 million in loans at the Finance Committee meeting of October 11, 2013.

The Rosenwald, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1929 by Julius Rosenwald, then President of Sears, to develop housing for working class African American families at the urging of Booker T. Washington. The building has been vacant for more than 12 years and will soon be renovated with 239 apartments, 51,000 square feet of retail and office space and 27,000 square feet of community space.  There will also be a two acre courtyard. Of the 239 affordable apartments, 120 will be set aside for independent seniors and 119 apartments for working families. All of the senior units will be one-bedroom and the family apartments will be one and two bedrooms. It is anticipated that 60 of the 120 senior apartments will be funded by the Chicago Housing Authority which will consider the request in November.

3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell commissioned an Urban Land Institute Community Assistance Panel in March 2010 to help her think through development options for the building. With input from community residents and the support of real estate experts, options for redevelopment or demolition of the building were explored.

"I was unwilling to let the Rosenwald sit vacant another 12 years or add an empty city block to our current inventory of almost 3,000 vacant lots in the ward," said Alderman Dowell. "The complete rehabilitation of the building with affordable housing, retail and office space was the most economically feasible option and I am thankful that the Finance Committee supported my request for the use of TIF dollars which is appropriate in this case and meets city policy."

The total project cost is $109 million. The total cost for the residential units is $84.4 million ($353,000/per unit), for the retail/office/community space is $15.5 million, for the two acre park is $1.5 million and $7.6 million in donated land costs. The per unit cost reflects the fact that the decades old landmark building requires a gut rehabilitation including the installation of 6 new elevators, and plumbing, electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. In addition, each unit will be finished with a washer and dryer and complete appliance package including a refrigerator, microwave, and stove. Finally, the newly rehabbed Rosenwald will include 3 separate security controlled entrances, dedicated parking for residents, 3 separate community rooms, a computer and education center, storage units, and a vibrant garden courtyard.

Financing includes tax credit equity of $50.1 million; $25 million in TIF funds;  $17.4 million of CHA funds; $7.6 million of seller financing; $5 million of Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds; and a Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity energy grant of $900,000. $58.6 million of tax exempt bonds will bridge the other financing during construction.

"This investment is good for the Bronzeville community," said Alderman Dowell. "The new Rosenwald will complement other planned community improvements such as Shops and Lofts and the Bronzeville Artist Lofts and reactivate 47th Street. In addition, the development will provide 360 construction jobs and 40 permanent jobs, new affordable housing opportunities, new retail and office space, property and sale taxes, and most importantly eliminate an eyesore which has been a drag on the community for over a decade."

The developers are Landwhite Development, LLC out of Indiana, Lighten-Gale Group out of Chicago and Jim Bergman from Iowa. Phase I of the construction will be done by a joint venture of Burling Builders and Tishman Construction. Phase II of the construction will be done by a joint venture of Powers and Sons Construction, Brown Momen, and Sollitt Construction.


Background Ref:  Sun-Times 07-12-2012