After falling into disrepair and closing nearly a decade ago, Chicago’s landmark Viceroy Hotel on the West Side has undergone a historic and green rehab.

Heartland Housing, Inc., and First Baptist Congregational Church, who partnered on the rehab of the 89-unit Harvest Commons Apartments, focused on sustainability, healthy living, and community engagement.

The $22.3 million project, which is pursuing Enterprise Green Communities certification, features geothermal heating and cooling, a solar-thermal domestic hot water system, native landscaping and rain gardens, high-efficiency lighting and water fixtures, and energy monitors.

A highlight of the project is a roughly 4,000-square-foot urban farm. A part-time farm coordinator will maintain the area and engage the residents. It will feature raised beds with vegetables, a small orchard, a chicken coop, and bees. The project also includes a teaching kitchen with a part-time licensed dietitian.

A public cafe will be operated by St. Leonard’s Ministries.

“The idea is to engage residents around food so they can learn about healthy eating habits and get some exercise,” says Hume An, director of real estate development for Heartland.

Eighty of the units are for residents earning 60 percent or less of the area median income (AMI) while the remainder will be for residents earning 30 percent or less of the AMI. The majority of the units are for formerly homeless or those at risk, while 17 units have been set aside for formerly incarcerated individuals. The Chicago Housing Authority awarded 89 project-based vouchers.

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