Lofts on Arthington: 2019 Award for Rehabilitation

Chicago

Mercy Housing Lakefront, a nonprofit provider of affordable and supportive housing, led the redevelopment of the locally and nationally landmarked 111-year-old former Catalogue Printing building at the old Sears, Roebuck & Co. headquarters on Chicago’s West Side. For many years, the building sat vacant, had been vandalized and was severely deteriorating inside. Today, the building has been rehabilitated and reused as an affordable housing development, providing 181 units for community residents in need. The rehabilitation project, which created 350 construction jobs and 11 permanent jobs at the property, gave priority to maintaining the historic features of the building, including the brick façade, terra-cotta detailing and windows. This was all made possible through a complex and innovative financing system that included Historic Tax Credits as well as Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. Other groups that contributed funding are the Chicago Housing Authority, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and other philanthropists. The Lofts on Arthington now provide housing for 400 low-income individuals, half of whom are children, with full consideration given to safety, health care, education and economy. Through this project, Mercy Housing Lakefront has successfully reversed the fate of a blighted property and transformed the community.

Project Principals

Mercy Housing Lakefront

Gary Kohn, Solomon Cordwell Buenz

Joel D. Kuna, McHugh Construction Co.

LI Asks: WHY IS THIS PLACE IMPORTANT TO YOU?

Margaret Dodge, Mercy Housing Lakefront

“The history of this building reflects the history of the Homan Square community. The building is a National Historic Landmark and a City of Chicago local landmark in recognition of the incredible impact Sears had both on the city of Chicago and nationally. However, after Sears relocated, the building was vacant for approximately 40 years, and, much like the surrounding community, it was impacted by economic downturn and disinvestment. In rehabilitating the Lofts on Arthington, Mercy Housing Lakefront both preserved an important historic structure and contributed to the revitalization of the Homan Square community.”

How will saving this place impact people in your community?

“First and foremost, by preserving the Lofts on Arthington, Mercy Housing Lakefront was able to transform a blighted structure which might otherwise have passed into irreversible disrepair. Preserving the Lofts preserves an important moment in local history. Furthermore, as one of the final phases of the Homan Square redevelopment initiative, Lofts on Arthington contributes to the overall revitalization of the Homan Square community in North Lawndale. Most importantly, with Lofts on Arthington complete, approximately 400 low- to moderate-income individuals, including working families with children, now have access to safe, affordable housing with onsite services and additional amenities. This, in turn, allows residents to continue to live in the area and contribute to its overall revitalization, participating in the community, enrolling children in local schools, and accessing stores, services, and businesses nearby. At Lofts on Arthington, Mercy Housing Lakefront provides innovative financial capability programming aimed to improve the financial health of residents in the building and in turn impact the larger Homan Square community. In addition, now that Lofts on Arthington is complete, there have been signs of interest in the market for developing the properties around the building. Mercy Housing Lakefront supports efforts to continue development and investment in the surrounding community.”

 

(Photo of the interior of the building before the rehabilitation project.)

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