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Renovation of Historic Rosenwald Courts Apartments to Begin

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After nearly 15 years of sitting vacant, the massive Rosenwald Courts apartment buildings in Bronzeville finally have a permit to begin what could be a historic renovation and restoration project, potentially joining other area developments as a big catalyst for the South Side. This photo set by Curbed Flickr pool contributor Michael Gonzalez puts the tab for rehabbing the Arts & Crafts-era structure — a fund combining TIF money with low-income and historic tax credits, last estimated at $107 million — in context. A group consisting of Landwhite Development, Lighten-Gale Group, and Jim Bergman came together a few years ago to fund a gut rehab of the property, with plans calling for 239 units split between senior and affordable housing and pegged at $450-$850 for one- and two-bed apartments, according to Alderman Pat Dowell's office, as well as commercial space. The facades will be restored on the eight buildings, and the two-acre courtyard will be renovated and made private.

The complex was conceived by Julius Rosenwald, the Sears retail magnate who sunk part of his fortune into creating affordable middle class housing for blacks in a segregated city. When the buildings opened in 1930, rent was a respectable $62.27 a month for the 421 apartments. Designed in a Viennese mold by Ernest Grunsfeld Jr., the man behind the Adler Planetarium, the stylish dwellings served as homes for many Chicagoans, including local luminaries Quincy Jones, Nat "King" Cole, and Gwendolyn Brooks. But the housing stock started a slow and steady decline, partially in parallel with the surrounding neighborhood and partially due to mis-management, until it was finally closed in 2000. Despite the rough shape, the buildings still earned a spot in the National Register of Historic Places and offer an incredible opportunity as a renovation showpiece.

·The Rosenwald Apartments: A Bronzeville Legacy in Limbo [Chicago Magazine]
·Previous Rosenwald Apartments coverage [Curbed]