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The Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award

Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation for the 1704 N. Humboldt Building

Second chances aren’t guaranteed in community development, but as Section 8 contracts expire and subsidized mortgages run their course, veteran developers of affordable housing are faced more and more with the challenge of a do-over.

Only now they have a masterful how-to model — Bickerdike’s top-to- bottom rehab of its 29-unit yellow brick courtyard apartment building on the northwest corner of Wabansia Avenue and historic Humboldt Boulevard.

Bickerdike saved the HUD-owned 1704 N. Humboldt from demolition in 1985 and proceeded to de-convert its 54 studios into 29 units of family affordable housing. Now an $11.3 million recapitalization has enabled repairs not in the earlier budget, beginning with total removal of lead and asbestos along with rewiring throughout. New amenities include: Energy Star windows, appliances and fixtures; air conditioning; high- efficiency heating; water-saving fixtures; tenant storage space; bicycle parking; on-site laundry; cable/internet hook ups; and solar hot water.

In keeping with this classic courtyard walk-up’s prominent position along a historic boulevard, architects Weese Langley Weese paid close attention to matching the exterior yellow brick, the mortar tone, and ornamental doors and hardware.

Typical of Bickerdike, the work was accomplished primarily with local labor via its Humboldt Construction Company. Tenant dislocation was minimized and a Community Advisory Board including tenants assists with management.

With Humboldt Park under renewed gentrification pressure, this project importantly locks in Section 8 affordability for 29 families — 70 percent with “extremely low incomes” and a majority living there at least five years. Bickerdike waited several years for IHDA to allocate the tax credits key to making the numbers work, but Executive Director Joy Aruguette says all project partners can take pride “in making this building safe, livable and financially secure.”