Developer: Mercy Housing Lakefront

Architect: Weese Langley Weese Architects

Major Funders: Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development; Illinois Housing Development Authority; Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation; Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity; PNC Real Estate; Department of Housing and Urban Development; Freddie Mac

The redevelopment of the Harold Washington Apartments (HWA) preserves 69 units of affordable housing and contributes to the revitalization of Chicago's Uptown neighborhood.

The nearly 100-year-old building is home to formerly homeless and disabled individuals.

To finance the $15.1 million development, Mercy Housing Lakefront utilized an innovative financing structure that combined the HWA renovation with the acquisition and rehab of 850 Eastwood, a separate 231-unit property.

“We were able to spread the costs of both projects in one transaction,” says President Cindy Holler.

Financing included 4 percent low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt bonds. By itself, the smaller HWA would not have been able to support the use of bond financing. The combined $68 million transaction also keeps the amount of debt low, which helps the nonprofit fund the operation of HWA.

HWA is located in a neighborhood that used to be a thriving theater district in the 1930s. Mercy Housing worked to designate the area as a historic district, allowing its building, as well as others in the area, to be eligible for historic tax credits.

Mercy Housing also made the building more energy efficient by installing a geothermal heating and cooling system. The green improvements are expected to yield an energy savings of 40 percent per year.

Overall, the urban retrofit increases the quality of life for residents and extends the building's affordability for years to come.