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Mercy Housing Lakefront Named 2012 Recipient of the Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award
Harold Washington Apartments Recognized for Preserving Affordable Rentals in Uptown

CHICAGO (February 28, 2012) – For its renovation and preservation of the historic Harold Washington Apartments in the Uptown neighborhood, Mercy Housing Lakefront received the Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award at this year’s Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA), managed by Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago (LISC Chicago). The award honors those organizations that recognize the importance of maintaining high quality, affordable multi-family rental housing across Chicago. 

Uptown, which has long served as a gateway community for newcomers, was the site of Chicago’s first long-term supportive housing facility – the Harold Washington Apartments, 69 units housed in the historic 1930s Moreland Hotel and renovated by Lakefront SRO in 1989. 

But the intervening years were hard on the building, prompting Mercy Housing Lakefront to step in and undertake one of the city’s most striking examples of affordable housing renovation and historic preservation.

Using complex financing that involved local, state and federal agencies, combined with funds dedicated to historic preservation, “green” projects and affordability, Mercy Housing Lakefront cobbled together financing that allowed for the $68 million renovation of the entire building to LEED standards. Renovation included fundamental system changes such as geothermal heating and cooling systems, low-flow plumbing fixtures, Energy Star appliances, and increased insulation and energy-saving windows. Critical amenities such as individual bathrooms, communal meeting spaces, a new laundry room, computer lab, and an employment, training and education center were also added. Locally-sourced building materials were used in the renovation whenever possible.

“The renovation of the Harold Washington Apartments is just one part of the effort to revitalize the very diverse Uptown neighborhood,” said Cindy Holler, president of Mercy Housing Lakefront. “An important aspect in that revitalization is the preservation of affordable housing. We’re committed to Uptown for the long-term.”

About CNDA

This year’s ceremony, held at the Chicago Hilton & Towers, attracted more than 1400 people, including CNDA chair Wim Elfrink, executive vice president and chief globalization officer of Cisco, and leaders of Chicago’s non-profit, corporate and philanthropic sectors.  A forum, following a fast-paced presentation style, was held prior to the award ceremony. Four city leaders from varying fields presented their five big ideas for making the 21st century city.

Established in 1995, CNDA recognizes outstanding achievements in neighborhood real estate development and community building, especially the achievements of community development corporations, other community-based organizations, and for-profit developers working to build healthier neighborhoods in the Chicago metropolitan area.  Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago (LISC Chicago) manages the awards, in keeping with its mission to combine corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize city neighborhoods. LISC Chicago has invested $179 million in local comprehensive development programs, leveraging an additional $4.7 billion in community investment from other sources. The result is 29,000 units of affordable housing, over 5 million square feet of commercial space, and a variety of social and economic development programs.

“Community development is a complicated business and requires the participation of many people and institutions – from neighborhood residents to government officials, corporate leaders, developers and architects,” said Susana L. Vasquez, LISC Chicago’s executive director. “Our purpose at the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards is to acknowledge and celebrate those individuals and organizations whose ingenuity and creativity make Chicago such a great city.”
This year’s awards are generously underwritten by:

Allstate; Bank of America; BMO Harris Bank; Charter One; Chase; The Chicago Community Trust; Cisco; Citi; LISC/Chicago; Northern Trust; PNC; Polk Bros. Foundation; The Private Bank; The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; State Farm; US Bank; Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen, PC; Brinshore Development; Camiros, Ltd.; Chicago Bears; Chicago Community Loan Fund; Cole Taylor Bank; Community Reinvestment Fund; Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.; Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago; Fifth Third Bank ; FirstMerit Bank; The Habitat Company; Holsten Real Estate Development; Illinois Housing Development Authority; MB Financial Bank; Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; Matanky Realty; Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C.; National Equity Fund; Reznick Group; Teska Associates, Inc.; Urban Development Fund, LLC; Urban Partnership Bank; and The Walsh Group.

For more information, visit www.lisc-cnda.org.