Could Elgin's Larkin Center be converted into affordable housing?
The historic Larkin Center in Elgin might be converted into affordable housing under a plan proposed by a Chicago nonprofit organization.
Lindsey Haines, vice president of Full Circle Communities, said the plan is to build 47 units on the property at 1212 Larkin Ave., including studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments.
The property has four buildings: two of them, including the 1912 historic building on Larkin Avenue, would be preserved, while the other two -- including a former residential building in back along Melrose Avenue -- would be demolished to make room for several new two-story buildings.
The cost is estimated at just less than $20 million, she said.
The property, empty for four years, belongs to Wintrust Bank and is in "pretty rough shape," Haines said.
"We saw an opportunity to preserve a really great building and what hit on a lot of local and state priorities. It just made sense for us to really get a start on the process to see if we can make something happen."
Elgin Community Development Director Marc Mylott said the project will require rezoning as a planned development, which requires review by the planning and zoning commission and approval by the city council. Because the Larkin Center is a local landmark, the project also will be examined by the design review subcommittee of the Elgin Heritage Commission, Mylott said.
The Chicago nonprofit agreed to host a neighborhood meeting before any public presentations to the city, Mylott said.
"FCC has been very receptive to preliminary guidance provided by staff in the early stages of their project -- that guidance emphasizing that the project must be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood and the existing buildings."
The Larkin Center began helping people in 1896 as the "Larkin Home for Children." It took the name "Larkin Center" in 1971 when it expanded its services to adults. It closed in 2013 due to financial difficulties and has been empty since summer 2014.
Haines said the Chicago nonprofit is working with a historic preservation consultant and architects Cordogan, Clark & Associates of Aurora to preserve the exterior and historic character of the main building.
The plan is to use federal low-income housing tax credits awarded by the Illinois Housing Development Authority, along with private debt and equity, and energy efficiency funds, she said.
The nonprofit is partnering with the Association for Individual Development, which has an office in Elgin, to ensure some of its units are accessible to people with disabilities, Haines said. There also will be a unit for employees living on the premises.
"We are hopeful and excited to work with the community to move this forward," she said.
Full Circle Communities has built and developed residential properties in Carol Stream, McHenry, Richmond and Chicago, as well as Michigan and Iowa, according to its website.
The Elgin development would be open to families who earn up to 80 percent of the area median income, Haines said.
The area median income for a household in the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin area was $66,020 in 2016, according to American Community Survey figures released in September.