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(Above) Rendering by Chicago architecture firm Brininstool + Lynch of proposed renovation and addition to Hotel Covent. The three-story building at right, built in 1906, includes retail space on the ground floor and a parking lot in back. The parking lot would be replaced by the seven-story building seen in the center of this image. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

11-Oct-19 – Support for the project but concerns about parking was how 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith described her October 2 community meeting to discuss redevelopment of Hotel Covent in Lincoln Park.

NHP Foundation, owner of the historic 64-unit Single Room Occupancy hotel, wants to turn the Covent into a mix of 30 affordable-rate residential units with private bathrooms and kitchens and 84 market-rate units. A new seven-story building would be constructed on what is now a parking lot.

Brininstool + Lynch

There would be 4,900 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and parking for 52 vehicles.

(Left) Closer view of proposed seven-story apartment building.

The not-for-profit real estate corporation purchased the hotel in 2016 for $7 million. A year earlier, they purchased another SRO hotel, the Mark Twain Hotel in the Gold Coast neighborhood, for $21.1 million and converted it to 152 affordable-rate rental units.

Residents who attended the meeting at Alcott Elementary School questioned the need for 52 more parking spaces, noting it would not be enough for the number of new units being constructed. Representatives of NHP Foundation, however, said that people who live in the neighborhood have access to public transportation and younger renters will choose ride sharing over owning cars.

(Right) Covent Hotel. Image obtained from NHP Foundation.

NHP Foundation

The proposed rehabilitation project would be supported by tax exempt bonds, low income housing tax credits, and federal and state historic tax credits. It would require city approval of a change to its zoning designation.

NHP says their project would attract more modern development of the Clark & Diversy area, which contains empty storefronts, but Alderman Smith says even without the project, retail occupancy is increasing.

“The area is really turning around,” she said. “Modern retail space on the ground is good. We’re optimistic.”