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Magnolia Court Gets $1.5 Million City Loan to Aid Affordable Housing

By Josh McGhee | February 10, 2016 3:42pm
 The apartment complex at 4878 N. Magnolia Ave. was geared to become market rate housing.
The apartment complex at 4878 N. Magnolia Ave. was geared to become market rate housing.
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DNAinfo/Josh McGhee

UPTOWN — The City Council voted Wednesday to give a $1.5 million city loan to fund renovations that will help preserve affordable housing at Magnolia Court Apartments in Uptown.

The measure was introduced into City Council by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in January.

Magnolia Court Apartments, at 4878 N. Magnolia Ave., is planning a $4.3 million rehabilitation project that will include a new roof, upgrades to kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and new energy efficient kitchen appliances.

The city loan will be contingent on the developer and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development agreeing on a 15-year contract on affordable units. Other funding sources will include a private mortgage loan and a $500,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank, according to a news release issued by the mayor's office.

In January, Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) announced he'd been working with various neighborhood organizations to preserve the 60-unit courtyard building, which was originally constructed in the 1920s. The building is an essential part of the neighborhood's fabric, which is very rapidly changing, Pawar said.

"Any building constructed in the 1920s will need maintenance work or capital improvements," Pawar said. "You're talking about 50 households that have been living in the area for a long time. If these apartments went market rate, they would've been priced out the neighborhood. That building is a community that is within a community."

Jane Addams Senior Caucus and ONE Northside did the heavy lifting attending dozens of meetings "to make sure we could preserve the rent by providing city finances" and ensuring a contract for 15 years, Pawar said.

Under the deal, 10 of the units will be offered at market rents and the remaining units will be reserved for residents earning up 60 percent of area median income.

Representatives from ONE Northside said they've been working with residents and the Senior Caucus since 2014.

"We thank the City and Alderman Pawar for pushing this forward," a spokesman for the group said. "We are very happy that this next step was approved in moving forward towards long-term preservation of Magnolia Court Apartments for 15 years as HUD Project-Based Section 8."

Claudette Morin, 70, a Jane Addams Senior Caucus member, who is also on a fixed income, said she was "thrilled" to hear about the loan's approval.

"Housing for low income seniors and families in Uptown is so important. This preservation will provide stability for residents and means long term affordable housing on the North side where many seniors and families on fixed incomes are being priced out," she said.

Those living in the building are predominantly senior citizens and people who speak English as a second language, officials said.

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