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Local

Sterling will celebrate completion of Lawrence Lofts this week

Ceremony, tours planned for Thursday

STERLING – The city and Rock Island-based Economic Growth Corp. will mark the completion of the Lawrence Lofts redevelopment project with a ceremony and tours of the apartments this week.

Construction of the 20 affordable housing units on the second through fifth floors of the Lawrence Building started in October 2016. The space has been vacant since the 1960s. The Whiteside County Courthouse will remain on the first floor of the building.

A short ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at
4 p.m. Thursday at 218 First Ave., followed by tours of the second-floor apartments and basement, which has a fitness center and storage and laundry areas.

State Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia, and state Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, are expected to attend.

The nonprofit Economic Growth Corp. was the developer, putting together several intricate layers of financing for the
$5.6 million project. The organization partnered with the city, Sterling Today and Sterling Main Street.

The Lawrence Lofts development is considered a milestone in the redevelopment of downtown Sterling and the riverfront. While there are a handful of living spaces above downtown buildings, the project is the first big push to bring a residential component to the downtown.

In addition to bringing the building back on the city’s tax rolls, it is hoped that the residents of the apartments will shop at businesses within walking distance.

The apartments range in size from 484 to 780 square feet. There are units with one bedroom and one bathroom, and others with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Rent, based on income, is anywhere from $215 to $740 a month.

Eighteen of the apartments will be rent-restricted under the federal low-income housing tax credit program for tenants with an income of 60 percent or less of area median household income, which in Whiteside County, is $34,450 for a one-person household and $48,343 for a family of four.

To satisfy another tax credit requirement, two units also must be made available to tenants at 30 percent or less of area median income.

Since construction started, interest in renting the units has grown.

“We will be taking pre-applications at the event Thursday, but we first have to work within our waiting list,” said Brian Hollenback, president and CEO at Economic Growth Corp.

Funding sources for Lawrence Lofts included the Illinois Housing Development Authority, low-income housing tax credits, state affordable housing tax credits, Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, Affordable Housing Program, the Sterling Today facade program, Sauk Valley Bank, and the Illinois Attorney General’s National Foreclosure Settlement Funds.

The city contributed by setting up a tax increment financing rebate program. Sterling Today took on some of the predevelopment costs, and provided a $50,000 grant to be used as a rental subsidy for two units set aside for very low-income households. The local development group also contributed a $100,000 facade grant for exterior improvements to the building.

NEXT MEETING

The City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at City Hall, 212 Third Ave., in the first-floor Council Chambers.

Go to sterling-il.gov or call City Hall at 815-632-6621 for an agenda or more information.

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