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CHICAGO-Senior Lifestyle Corp. has begun construction on its six-story Senior Suites of Kelvyn Park. The $19.4 million development, at 2715 N. Cicero Ave., will offer affordable housing to seniors in 85 apartment units. The community will be the company’s 19th such development in the state – 18 of which are in Chicago, and one in Joliet – since 1993.

“Every one has been an overwhelming success,” Bob Gawronski, VP of development, tells GlobeSt.com. “With these financing programs made available by the city, state and federal government, you’re able to address the market demand for housing for seniors who can’t afford to pay the type of rents that typical equity markets require for return on investment. Here, private investors get their return through low-income housing tax credits, and offer really nice apartment with services for seniors at rates that they are ready, willing and able to pay.”

The development is being funded with the support of $5.6 million in HOME funds from the Chicago Department of Housing, as well as $825,000 low-income housing tax credits from the City of Chicago. SLC secured $6.9 million in private equity for the development, a $2.2 million mortgage loan from Harris Bank, $3.5 million in Tax Increment Financing from the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, and $1.25 million in mortgage proceeds from the State of Illinois’ Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

The development will offer 25 studio and 60 one-bedroom units, ranging in size from 450 to 540 sf, for rental rates from $650 to $795. The rent will include all utilities, monthly housekeeping, weekly transportation to shopping in the area, parking, free laundry with washers and dryers on site, on-site dining, and a variety of activities held in-building. The location will also feature an adjoining 6,000-sf Satellite Senior Center, to be operated by Chicago’s Department of Senior Services and offering fitness and computer classes, Internet access, health screenings, library and meeting space, and community events for neighborhood residents that are 60 years old and up.

Fifty-one of the 85 apartments in the development will be designated for seniors earning 60% or lower of the area median income, and the other 34 will be reserved for those earning 50% or lower of the area median income. The units are offered to seniors 62 and older. “There certainly is pent-up demand in these neighborhoods for affordable senior housing,” Gawronski says. “We’ve seen it time and time again throughout Chicago where the buildings are in huge demand.”

Gawronski says the company purchased the property, a former Olympic Dodge used car dealership, in December 2007 for an undisclosed price. The company plans to deliver the building in July 2009. Based on interest in SLC’s 18 previous developments, Gawronski says he expects the company to have a list of as many as 1,200 seniors waiting to apply for one of the units when they receive the certificate of occupancy from the city next summer.

Gawronski says the company is now working toward closing on the site of its next Senior Suites project, planned for Blue Island, a suburb directly to the south of Chicago. Gawronski says SLC is working with Cook County and the Illinois Housing Development Authority on the project, and already has commitments for the development. The company is expected to close and break ground on the property in early 2009, Gawronski says.

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