Around Rogers Park: Clark-Estes Apartments Now Open


 

Image courtesy of Chicago Defender

A ribbon-cutting ceremony on the afternoon of Thursday, February 6th marked the opening of the Clark-Estes Apartments, bringing to a happy ending the long saga of this troubled site. The four-story apartment property combines 54 apartment units, 3,350 square feet of ground floor commercial space and a 20-car garage – a lower parking requirement due to the property’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) status. The new building contains a mix of 15 studios, 21 one-bedroom and 18 two-bedroom units. Although construction began in October 2018, the story of this site goes back much further.

For decades, the site was the location of the Adelphi Theater which opened in 1917 and closed in 2002. Developers bought the site and demolished the theater in 2006, hoping to build market-rate condos. They had built the foundation when the recession hit, ending any chance that the development could proceed as originally planned. The developers lost control of the site in a bankruptcy proceeding. The new owner was never able to put together a feasible, alternative development plan. As a result, the site sat vacant for more than a decade. This long period of inactivity led some neighbors to joke that the site should be turned into a swimming pool – what else to do with a giant concrete hole in the ground?

Finally, in mid-2017, Doug Ross, President of Ross Financial Services, put the site under contract and began to piece together a complex transaction that would eventually create the 100% affordable building we see today. Most of the funds needed to construct the building were raised through the sale of 9% tax credits that the developer received from the City of Chicago in October 2017. This approval came after earlier unsuccessful attempts to procure these highly competitive tax credits which are very difficult to obtain. The tax credit award requires the developer to limit rents to levels affordable to households earning no more than 60% of area median income (AMI). These rents are enforceable for a period of 30 years.

Going one step further, Mr. Ross was able to obtain a 30-year, Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract on 15 of the 54 units by working with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). Cary Steinbuck, Deputy Chief of Property Rental Assistance and Acquisitions at CHA, played a key role in helping Mr. Ross procure this contract which will allow the building to serve households whose incomes do not exceed 30% of AMI. The remaining 39 units will be subject to the tax credit rent restrictions at the 60% affordability threshold.

Last but not least, Ross Financial Services partnered with Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare – a Rogers Park-based, not-for-profit social service agency – to provide a wide range of services to the residents of the Clark-Estes Apartments. These services will range from job training to mental health resources. Mr. Ross is proud of the many relationships he forged during this challenging development process. Rogers Park will be a better place for his efforts.