Chicago Covent Apartments Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Marks Milestone in Historic Rehabilitation Project

November 16, 2023

The Chicago Department of Housing (DOH) is pleased to announce the successful completion and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Covent Apartments at 2653 N Clark Street in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. The project, a significant milestone in the preservation of residential hotels, involved the deconversion and rehabilitation of the existing Covent Hotel SRO (Single Room Occupancy) into 30 modern studio units, each equipped with their own kitchen and bathroom. 

Built in 1915 as part of a larger mixed-use development that included a vaudeville theater, the Covent Hotel has stood as a testament to Chicago's history. The three-story building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017, recognizing its cultural and architectural legacy. 

The Covent Apartments project received up to $5 million in multi-family loan funds from DOH, which played an integral role in the rehabilitation efforts, which also encompassed the transformation of the existing first-floor commercial space and the de-conversion of eight existing spaces into four larger areas. One commercial space was converted into a residential lobby, featuring a new elevator to enhance accessibility. 

Preservation of History and Affordable Housing 

Rooming hotels, a popular residential solution in early twentieth-century Chicago, were designed to accommodate the working-class and immigrant populations. The Covent Hotel, located in what is now one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city, served as a rooming house, witnessing the evolution of Lincoln Park over the decades. 

The Covent was subject to the City's 2014 SRO Preservation Ordinance, enacted to preserve SRO housing within the city, which acts as an affordable buffer for Chicago’s lowest income residents against outright homelessness. As one of the first buildings preserved under this ordinance, the Covent garnered considerable media attention and celebration from advocates. 

Project Highlights 

The rehabilitation of the Covent Apartments involved converting 64 existing rooms into 30 studio units, each featuring a kitchen and bath. All 30 units are designated as permanent supportive housing for tenants at or below 30% and 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) levels. Six of the 30% AMI units are dedicated to the State Referral Network, with all units receiving Project-Based Vouchers from the Chicago Housing Authority. 

Project amenities include active and passive security systems, on-site management, common laundry, a community room/lounge, an outdoor patio area, a new elevator system, a resident service coordinator, and case management services. Unit renovations include newly constructed kitchens with full-size appliances, flooring, and fixtures. New bathrooms have been built in each unit, and all utilities are included in the rent. 

The NHP Foundation submitted the funding application to DOH in February 2019. 

“Today marks a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to address housing challenges in our communities, as we gather to celebrate the ribbon cutting of the Covent Apartments and the creation of 30 SRO permanent supportive housing units in the heart of Lincoln Park,” said DOH’s Acting Commissioner Jim R. Horan during the ribbon cutting.  

He added, “This project represents a success story and the preservation of one of the only remaining early-20th century residential hotels, or rooming hotels. This is important to note, because rooming hotels play an important part of Chicago’s history, as they have long served as affordable housing for the immigrants and workers that built our city. With this ribbon cutting, the Covent will continue its legacy as an accessible haven to those who need it most.” 

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