A new state law has allowed a stalled $60 million plan to turn a vacant high-rise at the former Ravenswood Hospital site into affordable senior housing.
“We’re looking to start construction sometime this summer, probably late July or early August,” Jeff Rappin, chairman of Evergreen Real Estate Group, a Chicago-based affordable housing developer, has been quoted as saying in The Chicago Tribune.
The proposed mixed-use redevelopment seeks to build separate supportive and independent living facilities under one roof, which was prohibited by state regulations — until April 6. The new law signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner allows for both uses at one location, provided they have separate entrances, common spaces and staffs.
Evergreen plans to redevelop the 10-story building on the former Ravenswood Hospital campus at 4501 N. Winchester Ave. with 119 supportive living apartments on the first four floors and 74 one-bedroom independent living units on the upper floors, the published report says.
The Chicago Housing Authority has committed $24 million for the project’s independent living portion, with the balance funded through equity and debt, with low-income housing tax credits, Rappin said.
Submitted in 2016, the proposal was rejected in November by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, which regulates supportive living facilities, the Tribune reported.
The developers enlisted support to change the rules, with Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, sponsoring a bill to allow for mixed-use supportive living facilities. It passed unanimously in the House and Senate before landing on Rauner’s desk last month.
Rappin said the project is “gathering steam again” thanks to the new law. He is meeting with lenders, the contractor and the seller. He says once he receives the state’s approval, he will apply for a city building permit. He anticipates it will take about a year to complete the redevelopment, extended by vandalism at the vacant site.
“There’s a tremendous amount of renovation that has to occur in the building,” Rappin said.