Jonathan Rose Cos. has purchased the 272-unit Barbara Jean Wright Court Apartments (BJ Wright), one of the largest affordable housing developments on Chicago’s West Side.
In addition to acquiring the community from the Chicago Community Development Corp. for $17.5 million, Rose is also committing another $46 million to the rehabilitation of its apartments and common spaces, according to the company.
With the University Village neighborhood to the east, booming Pilsen to the south, and new high-rises to the north, many residents were concerned that they might be forced to leave the area, say Rose leaders, noting that the redevelopment ensures that rents at BJ Wright stay affordable for years to come.
Under a new agreement, all but 21 apartments will be affordable to those earning no more than 60% of the area median income, with 40% of units receiving federal project-based rental assistance (PBRA) through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and another 30% receiving PBRA through the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). The remaining 21 will be unrestricted and unsubsidized units, allowing existing market-rate renters to remain on site.
“With the housing markets in the West Loop and Pilsen booming, all—HUD, the city’s Department of Housing, the state, the alderpersons, the CHA, the tenants, and the tenant advocates—were united in our efforts to preserve this critical piece of affordable housing,” says Nathan D. Taft, Rose partner and senior managing director.
The extensive restoration will include a complete renovation of all apartments, the heating and cooling systems of all buildings, new landscaping, and renewal of the property’s playgrounds and basketball court. And as a centerpiece of the renovation, Rose will create a new 5,000-square-foot clubhouse that will contain “community of opportunity” common spaces, featuring a fitness center, a computer learning center, and a large multipurpose room. The renovation will also furnish in-unit Wi-Fi for residents free of charge to increase digital access at the community.
The project is being financed with help from several sources. Enterprise Housing Credit Investments contributed $25.3 million in federal low-income housing tax credit equity, while PGIM Real Estate Finance arranged a $46.9 million FHA Section 221(d)(4) mortgage loan. Huntington National Bank is providing a $20.3 million construction loan. In addition, the city contributed tax increment financing in the amount of $4 million and Community Reinvestment Plan funds in the amount of $3.8 million. The financing also included Illinois Donation Tax Credits facilitated by the redevelopment’s nonprofit partner, Community Opportunity Fund, and purchased by U.S. Bank to generate roughly $900,000.
Residents will be temporarily relocated on a rolling basis throughout the two-year renovation period. Skender Construction will serve as the general contractor, and Grund & Riesterer Architects is the architect. Urban Relocation Services is managing the temporary relocation, and Rose Community Management is the property manager.