Danville, Ill.—The New Holland, a 101-year-old building that once housed the local elite in this small town, was rescued from crime, decay, and abandonment last year and is now fully occupied by low-income residents.
The turnaround is particularly important to Thom Pollock, executive director of Crosspoint Human Services, a local nonprofit social services agency that redeveloped New Holland. Pollock lives just two blocks from the project and had long been impressed by the beautiful old building.
Despite its start as home to the high-rent set, New Holland had become the bad stereotype of low-income housing in later years and deteriorated into a haven for drugs, prostitution, and other criminal activity. Despite a $3 million refurbishment in 1990, mismanagement drove the project into bankruptcy, and it was only 25 percent occupied by 1995. Eventually, the building was completely abandoned and put up for auction. Pollock pounced at the chance and bought the property.
The first big challenge was keeping costs low enough to proceed. Between some value engineering to reduce construction expenses and a general contractor who worked with the subcontractors to reduce prices (and who sacrificed a portion of his fee), the project was able to stay within its budget.
Rehabbing the old building meant taking care of the results of years of neglect, including water damage and dry rot that had weakened some of the infrastructure. But the developers were dedicated to returning the building to its former glory, and they even got a list from the city of similar buildings that were slated for demolition so they could reuse their bricks to restore the façade of New Holland.
Modern touches were added, too, such as a geothermal heating and cooling system, which boosted costs by about $250,000 but could save the building 50 percent on energy costs, according to Larry Pusateri, president of Pusateri Development, LLC, a project consultant and affordable housing specialist. Other environmentally friendly steps taken included recycling as much of the materials as possible, installing low-flow faucets and fixtures, and reclaiming a nearby brownfield as a park and playground.
Completed in December 2005, the project’s 47 apartments include 14 one-bedroom units ranging in size from 513 to 909 square feet, 23 two-bedroom units ranging from 620 to 1,185 square feet, and 10 three-bedroom units ranging from 1,076 to 1,350 square feet. Twenty-two units are reserved for households at or below 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), 14 are for households at or below 50 percent of AMI, and 10 are for households at or below 40 percent of AMI. A two-bedroom, market-rate unit was set aside as a manager’s apartment. Twelve of the units are slated for formerly homeless women and their children. The apartments were 100 percent occupied at press time.
Financing for the $7.3 million development included about $2.9 million in 9 percent low-income housing tax credit equity provided by Enterprise Community Investment, Inc., which also provided $1.2 million in historic tax credit equity. The Illinois Housing Development Authority contributed $1.8 million in HOME funds. Additional financing came from Community Development Block Grants from the city of Danville, deleloper equity, and green building grants from Enterprise and the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation.