In its efforts to revive older neighborhoods and repurpose historic but blighted institutional buildings, the city of Aurora on July 30 announced a plan to rehabilitate the former St. Charles Hospital has received millions of dollars in state tax credits and private investments that will allow the project to become a reality.
The complicated layers of financing and tax credits — totaling $20 million — were assembled in a collaborative effort involving Seize the Future Development Foundation, the Northern Lights Development Corporation, Verigreen Development and the city of Aurora.
The rehabilitation project would transform the long-vacant St. Charles Hospital and former Fox River Pavilion Nursing Home at 400 E. New York Street into a senior independent living community.
But the $20 million project by Verigreen Development is in jeopardy without a legislative fix in Springfield.
Funds provided by the State Historic Tax Credit through the River Edge Redevelopment Zone program would contribute roughly $4 million to this $20 million project that would drive economic growth and beautify the eastern gateway to downtown Aurora. However, the River Edge Redevelopment Zone is set to expire at the end of 2016, likely before renovations to St. Joseph Hospital could be complete and residents could move in.
If the River Edge Redevelopment Zone program is not extended, not only would $4 million be lost for the St. Joseph Charles Hospital building rehabilitation, the remaining $16 million in private investments would also likely be lost, and this historic property would continue to stand vacant, at risk of a fate similar to the blighted former Copley Hospital on Lincoln Avenue a mile south.
“It’s a fantastic project,” said Verigreen Director of Developments David Block. “Everybody wants it to happen, to have a building we’ll all be very proud of. The extension of the program would be enormously helpful in making this project come to fruition.”
To save this and other worthy redevelopment projects around the state, the city of Aurora is encouraging local lawmakers, including State Rep. Linda Chapa La Via, State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit and State Senator Linda Holmes — all of whom are already co-sponsors of a bill to extend the RERZ — to prioritize the passage of Senate Bill 1642 before the General Assembly adjourns. This bill would extend the life of the River Edge Redevelopment Zone program beyond 2016, giving developers across the state the time to build projects that generate business and revenue that would not otherwise exist in Illinois.
In addition, the city of Aurora is asking residents to contact their state lawmakers to express their support for SB 1642 to ensure that projects like the redevelopment of the former St. Charles Hospital move forward.
The St. Charles Hospital rehabilitation project would beautify a major corridor in the city, restore an historic building to the requirements of the National Register, create 60 construction jobs for local companies and help stabilize an economically distressed neighborhood.
“Buildings here in Rockford vacant for 30, 40, 50 years, to see them all filled, that’s all due to the state tax credits being in place,” said Gary Anderson, president of the River District Alliance, Rockford’s downtown business organization. “What’s happened in Rockford is profound and the same thing can happen in Aurora. Developers have all been able to take advantage of empty storefronts that are now full and full for the right reasons, contributing to the street and to the atmosphere and character that as a community we’ve been trying to build.”
Learn more about Senate Bill 1642 here.
SOURCE: City of Aurora press release