218 First Avenue, Sterling, Illinois
Units: 20 Mixed Income Residential
$5.6 Million Investment
GROWTH is redeveloping the second through fifth floors of the Lawrence Building into a $5.6 million adaptive-reuse, mixed-use development repurposing the vacant, upper stories into twenty (20) residential affordable rental units.
About the Project
Economic Growth Corporation is redeveloping the second through fifth floors of the Lawrence Building into a $5.5 million adaptive-reuse, mixed-use development repurposing the vacant, upper stories into residential affordable rental units. The Lawrence Lofts development will provide downtown urban options for individuals seeking affordable housing within walking distance to services and amenities. Additionally, the development also saves the Whiteside County Extension Courthouse by removing the financial burden of maintaining the aging vacant upper stories, allowing the County to maintain its ownership of the Lawrence Building’s first floor and presence in downtown Sterling.
GROWTH serves as the developer, with Bush Construction serving as general contractor, Gary W. Anderson Architects serving as architect, and Ward, Murray, Pace, & Johnson is serving as legal counsel. GROWTH has been utilizing a comprehensive community approach for the Lawrence Lofts development, working closely with its local partners City of Sterling, Sterling TODAY and Sterling Main Street advancing shared community development initiatives.
The City of Sterling contributed to the project through a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) rebate program. Sterling TODAY, a local non-profit community and economic development organization, has demonstrated tremendous support for the Lawrence Lofts development. In addition to assisting GROWTH in predevelopment expenses, the non-profit directly contributed a $50,000 grant to be used as rental subsidy for two units within Lawrence Lofts that will assist in affordability for very low income households. In addition, Sterling TODAY provided $100,000 façade grant towards the building’s exterior improvements.
The first floor will remain under separate ownership The development will save the existing Whiteside County Extension Office, which will remain the owner of the first floor of the Lawrence Building. This allows the opportunity for Whiteside County to eliminate a large and unfunded financial building maintenance burden.
GROWTH will begin construction on the upper floors of the Lawrence Building in October 2016, with a 10-month construction schedule. The development is anticipated to support over 62 jobs during the construction period, and will place the aged property back on the tax rolls upon its completion in 2017.
Connection to Veterans
GROWTH is working with the local Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic, located just two blocks away for the Lawrence Building, to receive referrals to prioritize veterans and move them along the housing continuum to permanent housing arrangements with either on-site or off-site services provided by the VA.
Above: Rendering of the Lawrence Lofts. Left: Lawrence Building today. The Whiteside County Courthouse will maintain its ownership of the first floor, while GROWTH will redevelop the upper stories into 20 mixed-income residential rental units. Vacant since the 1960's, completion of Lawrence Lofts will mark the first time the upper stories have been occupied since the 1960's.
Interesting Fact: The upper stories of the Lawrence Building have been vacant since the 1960's. GROWTH's adaptive-reuse redevelopment of the upper stories of this historic building stimulates the economy, feeds the local tax roles, creates and supports jobs, and citizens are provided with equal, fair, and quality housing opportunities.
Funding sources for the Lawrence Lofts development includes Low Income Housing Tax Credits, State Affordable Housing Tax Credits, Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, Sterling TODAY, Sauk Valley Bank, and Illinois Attorney General National Foreclosure Settlement Funds.
Catalyst for Investment
The Lawrence Lofts development comes off the success of nearly a 10-year partnership between GROWTH and the City of Sterling. Lawrence Lofts is the first multi-family development GROWTH has produced in downtown Sterling, but GROWTH has been partnering with the City of Sterling since 2009 on various housing initiatives including Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2, Illinois Attorney General National Foreclosure Settlement Funds, and programs that address blighted, vacant residential properties and various programs that allowed homeowners to make necessary repairs and accessibility improvements, allowing residents stay in their homes while improving the quality of single-family housing and helping to create vibrancy in neighborhoods throughout the City of Sterling.