Elected officials and developers break ground on the Bellwood Senior Apartments on June 23 in Bellwood. | Courtesy Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey/Facebook
Saturday, June 25, 2022 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Elected officials from various levels of government and developers broke ground June 23 on the Bellwood Senior Apartments, a $30 million, four-story, 80-unit building at 540 S. 25th Ave in Bellwood.
The apartments, which are meant to be “100% affordable” for area senior citizens, will replace a former Walgreens store that had sat abandoned for nearly a decade. The store was recently demolished to make way for the senior building.
“This is going to be the site of a [transformative] development,” said Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey at the June 23 groundbreaking ceremony.
David Block, the director of development and principal at Evergreen Real Estate Group, the firm leading the project, said they’ve gotten funding through a variety of means, including tax credits and the state’s COVID-19 Affordable Housing Grant Program.
Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) announced on June 17 that the grant program would entail the state setting aside $75 million in federal funds “to provide vital gap financing and complete underwriting for affordable housing developments that may have otherwise not been built due to financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Bellwood Senior Apartments is one of 19 affordable development projects across the state that will see some of that money, said Kristin Faust, the IHDA’s executive director.
“One of the things Covid did is it eventually brought rising construction prices, so we were ready to come to the table and make the deal, and all of a sudden the prices and interest rates went up,” Faust said at the June 23 groundbreaking ceremony.
Faust said the state’s creation of the grant funding allowed IHDA to fulfill its commitment to projects like the Bellwood Senior Apartments, despite the rising construction costs and rising interest rates.
“That money [from the COVID-19 Affordable Housing Grant Program] is going to help create 1,000 new units of affordable housing and [the Bellwood Senior Apartments] is the first deal that we are closing with that money,” Faust said.
Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (4th), whose district encompasses Bellwood, said the state tries each year to allocate “at least $100 million into the space of affordable housing. I am pleased and grateful to know that some of those resources landed here in the village of Bellwood.”
State Rep. Will Guzzardi (39th), the chairman of the state legislature’s housing committee, said the state put another $150 million into this year’s budget — money that is “designed to close those [financing] gaps and bring to fruition projects like this.”
Block said the project’s other funders include Bank of America and IFF, community development financial institution. IFF provided early funds for the project. Bank of America has committed to lending roughly $28.5 million to the project, said a Bank of America representative who attended the groundbreaking.
The total estimated cost of the project is about $30 million, Block said in a February interview. According to officials, the construction could take between 12 and 18 months.
“The best thing we can ever do to have stable communities is to have affordable housing,” said First District Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, whose district includes Bellwood. “If people don’t have anywhere to live, you’re not going to find peace and tranquillity — you’re just not.”