LINCOLN PARK — The $21 million rehab of the historical Covent Hotel opened Thursday, bringing rare affordable housing to Lincoln Park.
The Covent Apartments, 2653 N. Clark St., is a $21-million redevelopment led by nonprofit NHP Foundation that converts an old rooming motel into a mixed-use building with 30 affordable rental studios.
The project, which broke ground in November 2023, involved converting the hotel’s 64 rooms into the larger studios, which each have their own kitchens and bathrooms, city officials said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday. The studios will be permanent supportive housing restricted to tenants at or below 30 percent and 50 percent of the area median income, which is just less than $100,000 in Lincoln Park.
“This project represents a success story and the preservation of one of the only remaining 20th-century residential hotels,” said Jim Horan, acting commissioner of the city’s Department of Housing, which provided $5 million in multi-family loans toward the project.
As part of its renovation, the hotel’s eight ground-floor commercial spaces were converted into four larger retail spaces, city officials said. The first floor also has a residential lobby with a new elevator to make the building more accessible.
Many of the rooms’ old doors and windows were preserved in the rehab to maintain the historical significance of the Covent Hotel, which opened in 1915 to accompany an adjacent theater, which was demolished in the ’60s.
The surviving three-story building has long served as a single-room occupancy, but it fell into disrepair after its previous owner died, city officials said.
Before construction began, the hotel had about 20 tenants, according to NHP. They will all be offered priority to return to the renovated studio units once the rehab is finished.
The Chicago Housing Authority has also approved 30 project-based vouchers for the Covent’s incoming residents, including its current tenants, officials said. The vouchers allow residents to pay 30 percent of their income for rent.
Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd), who inherited the project when former Ald. Michele Smith stepped down last year, praised the project’s leaders for navigating a “tricky” zoning map amendment process to get the affordable housing project completed.
“That takes time, and I think from a city and zoning perspective, we like that because then projects are thoughtfully done,” Knudsen said. “But in the same regard, we need to make sure they don’t take too much time. … We’re really trying to hit a balance here.”
The Covent Hotel’s renovation is part of a planned development that involves building a modern seven-story building designed by architecture firm Brininstool + Lynch in the parking lot east of the historical building.
“Now starts the project right behind here,” Knudsen said.
Adnani said the developer’s purchase of the parking lot will help finance the Covent’s rehab.
Although that new structure calls for 84 rental units, only two will be offered at an affordable rate. To satisfy the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance, the developers will pay the city $794,000 to cover the shortfall of on-site, low-cost units.
That money will go directly toward funding the renovation of the old Covent building, officials said.
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