By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor
University Park, Ill.—The full renovation of the Thornwood House Apartments in southwest suburban University Park is nearing completion. The 14-story affordable rental apartment building includes 183 one-bedroom units designed for seniors 62 years or older and persons with disabilities.
Financing for the work came partly from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 (NSP2), a HUD initiative established to stabilize neighborhoods damaged by nearby foreclosed and abandoned properties. Last year the property’s owners, Boston-based Community Builders Inc., received $78 million of NSP2 funds—originally authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the federal stimulus)—to revitalize properties in communities affected by the foreclosure crisis, one of those being Thornwood House Apartments. The Illinois Housing Development Authority made resources available to support the renovation effort as well.
According to Metroplex Inc., the property’s managing agent, the $10-million renovation has replaced or updated practically every element of the building. Thornwood House Apartments has also received a $460,500 three-year grant from HUD to hire two on-site service coordinators to assess the needs of its senior and disabled residents and link them to the supportive or medical services to help them continue to live independently. The grant is part of a larger national effort to enable seniors and disabled persons to remain at home rather than live in nursing homes.
The existing residents of Thornwood House Apartments were relocated into newly refurbished apartments within the building during the renovation. Since the building is already partially occupied, there are only a limited number of apartments available for new residents.
Thornwood House Apartments features one-bedroom, one-bath units measuring 486 to 660 square feet, with monthly rents ranging from $545 to $600. Heat and air conditioning are included in the rent, and parking is no extra charge. Interior apartment renovations include new carpeting in living rooms and bedrooms, and kitchens with new cabinets, refrigerators, double-bowl stainless-steel sinks, laminate countertops, and light fixtures.
Upon completion of the renovation, the property will also feature a lounge/sitting room with a fireplace as well as a large community room for social activities and entertainment. The community room will contain a large screen TV as well as game tables and chairs. Floor-to-ceiling sliding doors lead to a handicap-accessible patio that looks out upon a landscaped area.
Though not formally going for sustainable certification, the renovations will also add some green elements to Thornwood House Apartments. Energy efficiency was taken into consideration in the selection of all lighting fixtures, for example. Energy Star appliances are being installed in all the kitchens, and all plumbing fixtures are low-flow.