The Miriam Apartments is a historic, single room occupancy (SRO) property in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Mercy Housing Lakefront (MHL), developer of the property, aimed to provide stable, high-quality housing to 66 vulnerable individuals struggling with finding affordable housing. The Miriam’s residents pay no more than 30% of their incomes for rent in a highly sought-after and lively historic Chicago neighborhood. Financing of the $20.5 million preservation project also included the utilization of federal low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) and Illinois affordable housing tax credits (IAHTC). MHA Chicago consulted on the rehabilitation’s federal historic tax credits.
The Miriam was built in 1925 as a home for senior citizens and was named for Sister Miriam Friday in honor of her lifetime work with Chicago’s poor and homeless. The property is one of 19 apartment hotels (also known as a subset of historic housing called residential hotels, rooming hotels, and SRO hotels) constructed in Chicago before 1930. The mid-rise, four-story masonry building is a contributing resource to the Sheridan Park Historic District, listed in the National Register in 1985. The Miriam is also listed on the National Register Multiple Property Documentation Form, “Residential Hotels in Chicago, 1880-1930,” by Ramsey Historic Consultants. The Miriam was constructed with small, private accommodations arranged around an interior corridor and shared kitchens, elements characteristic of such hotels.
MHL’s recent rehabilitation of the property illustrates the nonprofit’s determination to preserve affordable housing and provide support to Chicago’s disadvantaged populations. Though redeveloped to care for vulnerable women in the 1990s, the property now provides housing to both men and women.
The rehabilitation of The Miriam resulted in the retention of all 66 apartments, new private kitchens and bathrooms in each unit, and new amenities for residents including a computer room, fitness room, community room, and space for resident storage. The community spaces provide a place for the tenants to take advantage of the property’s case management and referral services, tenant leadership program, employment program, creative writing, and art therapy. The building is also well-situated in terms of public transit access and the Sheridan Park Historic District and Uptown neighborhood is well known for its walkability and bike-friendly nature.
In terms of preservation, the rehabilitation focused on retaining and repairing the property’s exterior and interior character-defining features. The brick façades and stone ornamentation were retained, cleaned, and repaired. Remaining historic wood windows were retained and repaired and all other windows were replaced with new, energy-efficient windows. The building’s non-historic entrance was removed and replaced, and air conditioning was added to the building. The building’s roof was also replaced, and new mechanical units and elevator overrun were installed on the roof so as to not be visible from street level.
On the interior, the non-historic flooring, walls, ceilings, and partitions that were installed during the 1990s renovation were removed and reconfigured for new administrative offices, tenant amenity spaces, and apartment units. On the ground floor, a central, double-loaded corridor was created throughout the building. On the upper floors, non-historic partitions and finishes were reconfigured.
- Local Initiatives Support Corporation | 2021 Chicago Neighborhood Development Award - The Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award
- Affordable Housing Finance Magazine | 2020 Readers’ Choice Award - Preservation Winner
- Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits | 2020 Historic Rehabilitation Award - Residential Development that Best Exemplifies Major Community Impact
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