A rendering of the 193-unit Ravenswood Senior Living project in Chicago. A rendering of the 193-unitRavenswood Senior Living project in Chicago.

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CHICAGO—Construction has begun on the adaptive reuse of thelong-shuttered Ravenswood Hospital into a 193-unit affordablesenior housing project.

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Evergreen Real Estate Group commenced construction on the$81-million project at 4515 N. Winchester Ave. in Chicago'sRavenswood neighborhood last week.

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The former Ravenswood Hospital, which was built in 1974, hasbeen vacant since 2002. The property's future use will atcompletion be one of the first developments in the country to offerboth independent living and supportive living for low-incomeseniors in a single location. The project will therefore allowresidents to age in place as their needs and lives change,Evergreen Real Estate notes.

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Evergreen representatives joined 47th Ward Ald. Matt Martin andofficials from the Chicago Housing Authority, Illinois HousingDevelopment Authority and other partners at a ceremonialgroundbreaking for the project on Jan. 23.

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Located between Damen and Ravenswood avenues, the 10-storybuilding will have 74 one-bedroom independent living apartments forCHA residents, as well as 119 units for participants in theIllinois Supportive Living Program, an alternative to nursing homecare that is administered by the Illinois Department of Healthcareand Family Services. While the two communities will be located inthe same building, they will have separate entrances and operateindependently from each other.

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"This important project is a rare opportunity to bringmuch-needed affordable senior housing to Chicago's North Side whileestablishing a viable financing model that can be applied to futuresenior developments across the country, especially as thepopulation continues to age," says Jeff Rappin, founder andchairman of Evergreen Real Estate Group.

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The facade of the former hospital will be cleaned andtuck-pointed, and all windows will be replaced using the originalframes. A small addition on the building's north side will featurea facade of metal panels whose colors complement the current brickand also mirror the design of the adjacent Lycée Français deChicago, a private French international school.

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Structural changes to the former hospital will include theaddition of an elevator and staircase at the entrance of theindependent living community. Elevators inside the building will bemodernized, and the entire building will be revamped to beconverted to apartments, which will include new walls, HVAC andsome new window openings. Both the independent and supportiveliving communities will share the existing parking garage, whichalso is utilized by Lycée Français de Chicago and other commercialand residential buildings on the block.

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On-site amenities for the independent living community willinclude a roof deck, community room, fitness room, library/computerroom, lounges and laundry rooms. The adjacent supportive livingcommunity will have its own amenities, including a roof deck,dining room with meals served daily, community room, fitness andphysical therapy room, salon, library/computer room,multi-purpose/TV room and attendant stations on each floor. Inaddition, the supportive living community will have an on-sitedoctor's office, which will be staffed by a physician up to twodays a week and offer 24-hour care provided by trained medicalprofessionals.

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Ravenswood Senior Living is owned by Evergreen Real Estate Groupin partnership with Chicago-based Synergy Construction Group andthe Chicago Housing Authority. Financial partners for theindependent living community include the CHA, which is providingRental Assistance Demonstration project-based vouchers for all 74residents, as well as a significant amount of capital funds.Evergreen also worked with IHDA, the National Development Council(NDC), Ravenswood Community Council, ComEd's Energy EfficiencyProgram via the CHA Community Support Corporation, IFF and Key Bankto secure additional funding and tax credits.

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Evergreen will manage the independent living community whileAsbury Senior Living will manage the supportive living componentupon completion of the project. Leopardo Companies is the generalcontractor, with Evergreen Construction Company and SynergyConstruction Group serving as subcontractors.

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The Ravenswood Senior Living project is the third affordablesenior housing community that Evergreen has developed on Chicago'sNorth Side over the past year. In 2019, the firm partnered with theCHA, Chicago Public Library and Chicago's Department of Housing ona pair of co-located developments—Independence Apartments andLibrary at 4022 N. Elston Ave. and Northtown Apartments and Library at 6800 N.Western Ave.—that co-locate low-income senior housing with newpublic library branches.

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John Jordan

John Jordan is a veteran journalist with 36 years of print and digital media experience.