ROGERS PARK — A nonprofit housing developer has stepped up to buy a low-income senior apartment building near the Rogers Park lakefront, saving the building from possible redevelopment.
The Chicago Housing Authority last week approved $3 million in funding to Boston-based Preservation of Affordable Housing, which will use the money to buy Levy House, 1221 W. Sherwin Ave.
Located on a side street that dead-ends at Jarvis Beach, the 56-unit Levy House provides affordable apartments for those 55 or older. The eight-story building was built in 1950 and has an exercise room, activity room and community kitchen facilities.
In 2018, Levy House’s owner, the Council for Jewish Elderly, told residents it intended to sell the building to a private developer, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
A property listing for the senior living center showed the Council for Jewish Elderly seeking $8.3 million for the building, with its real estate broker marketing the property as a prime opportunity for a redevelopment into market-rate units.
That set off an effort to preserve the complex for affordable housing.
Preservation of Affordable Housing entered an early offer for the property, but it was outbid, said Bill Eager, vice president of the company’s Midwest division. In late 2018, CHA announced plans to purchase the building itself.
The CHA deal would not have required all the building’s units to remain affordable. Instead, Ald. Maria Hadden’s (49th) office asked the housing agency to seek a solution that would keep the building entirely affordable and not potentially displace any residents, the alderman’s office said in an update to constituents.
Now, the housing authority has given $3 million in loans and low-income housing vouchers to Preservation of Affordable Housing, the agency announced in a news release. The development firm is under contract to buy the building for $8.1 million, Eager said. He is hoping the company closes on the property in the summer.
“We’re super excited,” Eager said. “It’s a great property. We have a lot of units in Chicago, but we never had a property on the lakefront.”
Preservation of Affordable Housing plans to rehab the property and preserve its affordability in the long term, Eager said. The building received a $6 million renovation in 2009 that overhauled the elevator and sprinkler systems, according to its listing.
Levy House is nearly fully occupied, but available units will go to those on the housing authority’s waiting list, according to the city agency.
The housing authority and Preservation of Affordable Housing have also recently partnered to preserve 101 affordable housing units in a former South Chicago YMCA building, according to the agency.
“It is more important than ever to ensure housing stability for low-income Chicagoans, and we will continue to expand our investments to serve communities across the city,” Chicago Housing Authority CEO Tracey Scott said in a statement.
A number of neighborhood groups and local officials rallied to keep the Levy House as affordable housing, including the Jane Addams Senior Housing Caucus, former Rogers Park Ald. Joe Moore and Hadden.
“In a time of so much uncertainty, it is especially important that we don’t displace our most vulnerable neighbors,” Hadden said in an statement.
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