Landmarks Illinois Honors Two CCLF Borrowers

In September, Landmarks Illinois announced nine recipients of the 2020 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards, which included two CCLF borrowers. The annual awards program honors exceptional historic preservation projects and the people working to save important locations throughout Illinois.

Among the winners, the CCLF-funded Aurora Arts Center in Aurora, Illinois, earned the 2020 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award For Adaptive Use. The Aurora Arts Center, a project of The Community Builders (TCB), is housed in two historic buildings constructed in the 1920s and later listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The site is home to a number of businesses and arts education spaces, including the Stolp Island Social House Restaurant, the Artesan Lofts, the Paramount Theater Rehearsal Spaces and the Paramount School of the Arts. The complex also provides 38 affordable apartments for artists and job opportunities for the community, including 25 full-time jobs and over 120 part-time jobs.

Award winner for Adaptive Use, the Aurora Arts Center contributes to downtown Aurora’s revitalization while providing a space for artists to live and work.
Photo credit: Mark Ballogg

CCLF provided an $869,000 line of credit to the Aurora Arts Center. Additional funders of the project included the Dunham Fund, the City of Aurora, Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), Invest Aurora, BMO Harris, US Bank, and TCB.

In 2014, the City of Chicago passed the Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Ordinance, which incentivizes SRO building owners to sell their properties to owners that will maintain them as SROs. This ordinance allowed The NHP Foundation to acquire the property with a mission to protect affordable housing.

CCLF provided The NHP Foundation a $5.25 million predevelopment/acquisition loan for The Mark Twain which helped leveraged $48 million from other partners. Other financing partners included Pembrook Capital Management LLC, Bellwether Enterprise Real Estate Capital, US Bank and the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development. Now, The Mark Twain is the recipient of the 2020 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award For Rehabilitation.

Earning an award for Rehabilitation, The Mark Twain brings affordable housing to Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, providing single room occupancy units to those on the verge of homelessness.

The 1930 Art Deco Mark Twain, which sits steps away from Michigan Avenue and Oak Street Beach, was rehabilitated from an aging, neglected affordable housing structure to a meticulously restored single-room occupancy (SRO) residence. The Mark Twain offers 148 SRO units, available at an affordable cost, featuring in-unit kitchens, energy efficient systems, and community spaces for residents. The interior and exterior of The Mark Twain, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was preserved to highlight the building’s historic character while at the same time meeting all Department of Housing requirements. Services provided in the building include financial literacy and health and wellness programming as well as tax and healthcare assistance.

“CCLF is committed to providing patient, flexible financing,” said CCLF President Calvin L. Holmes at the March 2020 ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Mark Twain. “We were involved in this transaction before any other partners committed to it.”

The 2020 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award winners were honored at a virtual awards ceremony in October.  In addition to the award, the winners received a $1,000 prize.