MHA Projects Win ULI Chicago 2018 Vision Awards

On June 13, the ULI Chicago celebrated the winners of their annual Vision Awards. This year's group included four MHA Midwest projects.

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Revel Motor Row

Chicago, IL
Developer: Property Adventures
Architect: Filoramo Talsma Architecture

Revel Motor Row is comprised of two adjacent landmarks along Chicago's South Loop Motor Row: the former Illinois Automobile Club (IAC) / Chicago Defender Building (completed 1936) and the former Cadillac Showroom (completed 1909). Developer Property Adventures transformed these two long-vacant buildings into a combined event venue with the help of Chicago-based Revel Group.

Using federal historic tax credits, the team restored and creatively reused both buildings for event use. The team replicated damaged windows and restored IAC/Defender’s ornate public rooms for event spaces. The skylit IAC swimming pool, later home to the Defender newspaper’s presses, is now a large event space. The Cadillac houses a downstairs event space with Revel Group offices upstairs.

The result has secured the continued life of two endangered Motor Row landmarks. Revel Motor Row creates an exciting new event production space that celebrates the history of these two landmarks and the historic Motor Row District, and adds an important new commercial anchor to new McCormick Square and the revitalized South Loop neighborhood.


Lofts on Arthington

Chicago, IL
Developer: Mercy Housing Lakefront
Architect: Solomon Cordwell Buenz

Lofts on Arthington is an adaptive reuse of the Catalogue Printing building on the former Sears, Roebuck & Co. Headquarters. Located in the Homan Square community of the North Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago, Lofts on Arthington meets the area's clear and ongoing need for affordable housing for individuals and working families.

Lofts on Arthington began construction in August 2015, with the building completed in March 2017 after an extensive rehabilitation. The project was financed using Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and Historic Tax Credits, along with funding from the Chicago Housing Authority, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The restoration of the property was challenging and innovative. After years of vacancy and years of deterioration, the roof was decaying, historic materials had been stolen and vandalized, and mercury was tracked through the building. This necessitated extensive remediation to ensure the property would be safe for residents. Despite the level of damage, Mercy Housing Lakefront made it a priority to preserve as many historical elements of the original catalogue-printing facility as possible.

The Lofts on Arthington helps Mercy Housing Lakefront provide low-income families with safe, quality, affordable housing from which to pursue improved health, education, and financial security.


Aurora St. Charles Senior Living

Aurora, IL
Developer: Evergreen Real Estate Group
Architect: Weese Langley Weese, LTD

Aurora St. Charles Senior Living, historically known as the St. Charles Hospital, in Aurora, Illinois, was built as the extension to a hospital founded by the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart. This six-story Art Deco style building was designed by architect Wybe J. Van der Meer and constructed in 1932. A two-year renovation closed the facility in the early 1970s. The building continued to operate as a hospital until the 1990s when it became the Fox River Pavilion Nursing Home. Fox River Pavilion closed in 2010, the same year that the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was vacant for six years. In 2015, the building was added to the River Edge Redevelopment Zone (RERZ), spurring redevelopment efforts by the Evergreen Real Estate Group to create 60 affordable units for seniors in the Aurora St. Charles.

Great efforts were made to retain and protect the historic integrity of the building. On the exterior, the building's original massing, regular fenestration, and Art Deco-style exterior brick, limestone, and terra cotta ornament and metal railing work were cleaned, retained, and repaired. Character-defining windows were also retained, repaired, or replaced in-kind. On the interior, the historic Art Deco style two-story lobby and one-story waiting room were retained and reused as new residential entry and lobby spaces. The building’s primary public space - the Art Deco style second floor chapel with the third floor balcony - were restored and is now used a new community room for the building’s residents. Character-defining historic corridors and circulation patterns were also retained.

In addition to the RERZ credit, the project was funded by federal historic tax credits, low-income housing tax credits from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and private financing from entities including the National Equity Fund, BMO Harris Bank, and Chase Bank. IFF provided predevelopment funding. Evergreen worked closely with Invest Aurora, the Northern Lights Development Corporation, the City of Aurora, the Illinois Housing Development Authority, and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to make the complicated and fast-paced financing possible. A 25 percent historic preservation tax credit that was included in the RERZ program provided nearly $3 million for the $24 million rehabilitation.