Developing more housing downtown

Lofts on Madison expects to break ground this fall for 136-unit apartment complex

Construction of a 136-unit, market-rate apartment complex in downtown Springfield will commence in the fall, the New York company spearheading the almost $29 million project told Mid-Illinois Medical District commissioners on May 23.

"We're really excited about it," Victor Salerno, chief executive officer of Adirondack Community Development, told commissioners in a Zoom call updating the progress of The Lofts on Madison. "It's been a long road, this development, but we're very happy to be where we're at."

Developing more housing downtown
Construction is expected to begin this fall for The Lofts on Madison, a 136-unit, market-rate apartment complex in downtown Springfield.

Salerno also told commissioners that Adirondack will ask the commission help finance the project by giving the company $250,000 in state funds appropriated to the medical district in 2022 to assist with development of residential units within the boundaries of the district.

The market-rate apartments for people wanting to live downtown and close to the city's two acute-care hospitals and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine would be ideal for medical students and nursing students, he said.

The Lofts would be one of the largest apartment complexes downtown and would house as many as 300 to 400 people in space currently used as a one-acre parking lot on the north side of Madison Street between North Fourth and North Fifth streets, Salerno said.

"It should be a major economic driver for the downtown Springfield area going forward," he said.

The complex would consist of one building with six stories, with all but the ground level containing one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The units would cover from 610 to 1,050 square feet apiece, with projected rents ranging from $1,100 to $1,450 per month.

The apartments would include stainless steel kitchen appliances, washer and dryer connections, high-speed internet, wood laminate flooring, a common room, dog park area, fitness center, laundry facilities and a rooftop pavilion and rooftop picnic areas.

The project includes 274 parking spaces in a three-level parking deck for apartment residents. The deck would be surrounded on three sides by the apartment complex, according to Val Yazell, director of Springfield's Office of Planning and Economic Development.

Salerno, who hasn't responded to inquiries from Illinois Times, told the commission that the first floor would create about 15,000 square feet of retail space along Madison Street.

The project, taking at least one year to complete, would create 400 full-time temporary construction jobs, 40 full-time retail and commercial jobs and 10 full-time apartment jobs, he said.

"This will not just help with providing housing for your students and employees, but it will also create jobs for the greater Springfield area," Salerno told the commission.

The medical district commission hasn't made a decision on who should get the $250,000, which was included in the fiscal 2023 state budget and designated to expand housing options in the district.

Edgar Curtis, president and CEO of Memorial Health, which operates the 500-bed Springfield Memorial Hospital, told Salerno that there are more than 1,000 "learners" in the medical district at any one time – including medical students, young doctors completing residencies and fellowships, and other adult students completing educational programs in health care.

Curtis said Salerno should have "no problem" filling the complex.

The need for more housing in and near the one-square-mile medical district for students and workers is a concern widely shared by employers in the district, according to Ryan Croke, president of the commission.

The medical district, created by the Illinois General Assembly in 2003 to help the Springfield area's medical community grow, is guided by an 11-member, all-volunteer commission of members appointed by the governor, mayor of Springfield and the Sangamon County Board.

The district is bounded by North Grand Avenue and by 11th, Walnut and Madison streets.

Other than the $250,000, the district hasn't received state funding since 2004. The district has just $236.53 in its bank account.

The Springfield City Council in 2023 formed a tax-increment financing district consisting only of the proposed apartment site so Adirondack could use future property taxes for that site to help pay for the project.

But a reduction in what Adirondack initially expected from the TIF district over the next 23 years created a $2 million funding gap for the project, Salerno said. The $250,000 from the medical district would help fill this gap, he said.

Salerno said Adirondack would pay for most of the project through borrowing, including a $2 million state grant known as PACE, which stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. PACE grants are designed to help commercial property owners finance energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable energy projects.

Adirondack would have the option to increase the size of its PACE loan to cover the rest of the funding gap, as well as any inflationary increases in construction costs beyond the current $28.8 million estimate, Salerno said.

The reduction in expected TIF funding through city government resulted from a "misunderstanding" in earlier talks between the city and Adirondack regarding project expenses eligible for TIF reimbursement, Yazell said.

In recent months, city officials have been "working very closely with the developers," she said. "We feel confident that they are on the right track."

Dean Olsen is a senior staff writer at Illinois Times. He can be reached at 217-679-7810, [email protected] or twitter.com/DeanOlsenIT.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information about plans for parking.

Dean Olsen

Dean Olsen is a senior staff writer for Illinois Times. He can be reached at:
[email protected], 217-679-7810 or @DeanOlsenIT.

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