THE LOOP — When they set out to convert the former Steuben Club building into a residence, the Illinois Housing Development Authority promised the renovation would do two things for the downtown community:
- It would restore the landmark-designated building, constructed in 1929 with a distinctive Gothic Revival-style, to its former glory, repairing the terra cotta facade and modernizing the interiors.
- It would also help make the desirable property blocks from "Chicago's front yard" available to more Chicagoans, dedicating 20 percent of the units to affordable housing.
"Recent Census data shows that Chicago's core was the fastest-growing urban center in the country, and Chicago has the greatest population boom within two miles of its city hall than any other American city, which is great," said Mary Kenney, executive director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority.
"But one of the not-so-great outcomes is that data also shows that the inner core of the city is gentrifying, and moderate- to low-income families can no longer afford to live there. It's vital that we continue to provide affordable housing in the communities where affordable housing is being pushed out," Kenney said.
The IHDA is a self-supporting agency that finances affordable housing options statewide by supporting developments that allocate a portion of their units for low-income individuals and families.
They provided nearly $75 million in bonds and $10 million in federal stimulus financing to fund the Randolph Tower City Apartments project, which created 311 studio, one- and two-bedroom units, 63 of which will offer affordable rents.
The units will cost $628 monthly for studios, $665 for a one-bedroom apartment and $796 for a two-bedroom, according to Rebecca Boykin, the IHDA's communications manager.
To qualify for the affordable units, tenants' income must be at or below 50 percent of the area median income, or $25,800 for a one-person household in Chicago.
The tower's construction generated an estimated 1,536 jobs and 119 permanent positions.
Kenney said the agency believes the project accomplished everything it set out to do.
"We're thrilled. This was really a historical treasure of the city that was fast becoming dilapidated," she said. "To go there today, it's been lovingly restored with kind of an urban edge to it, although it still retains its 1929 Gothic style. ... It preserves a treasure for our skyline."
Kenney was joined by city leaders Wednesday to celebrate the tower's opening.