Landon Bone Baker Architects

The preservation of the Miriam Apartments is helping to improve the quality of life for 66 vulnerable residents in Chicago’s Uptown community.

Dating back to 1925, the Miriam was last updated in 1990 when it was acquired by Mercy Housing Lakefront’s predecessor, Lakefront SRO. Mercy Housing Lakefront partnered with its architect and general contractor to modernize the single-room occupancy building in the gentrifying neighborhood.

Landon Bone Baker Architects

It temporarily relocated residents to do the gut rehab of the four-story building. The new layout has reconfigured the 66 studios and has replaced shared bathrooms and communal kitchens with private ones in the units. The new design also opens up the ground floor to include new features, such as a computer lab, a fitness room, a redesigned community room, and space for resident storage. In addition, the rehab replaced a steam heat system, providing air conditioning in the building for the first time.

The Miriam is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places so the team preserved the original front façade windows, brick, original hardwoods floors, and trim where still in place.

“The outside of the building has that classic Chicago look on a beautiful city street. With this transformative rehab, the interior now matches the exterior that you see when you’re walking by,” says Carolyn Reid, developer I at Mercy Housing.

The $20.5 million preservation project required a complex mixture of private, state, and federal funding sources. It used the Rental Assistance Demonstration Second Component program to convert all 66 units to new 20-year project-based rental assistance contracts. The formerly homeless residents, who started to move back into the building this spring, will pay no more than 30% of their incomes for rent.

“Our ability to continue to serve residents who are coming out of homelessness in a building that has great transit access and is in such a vibrant neighborhood is really exciting,” adds Reid.