Article Published by MultiFamily Executive | View Article
Author: Donna Kimura
The John C. Dunham Aurora Arts Center brings together 38 new affordable apartments, a performing arts school, theater rehearsal space, and a restaurant within a historic building in Aurora, Ill.
To create the ambitious development, nonprofit developer The Community Builders partnered with the city and the Paramount Theatre to turn around a long-vacant retail and commercial building that had been built in the 1920s as three independent structures and over time had been converted into one space. It was most recently used by the area community college but had been vacant for six years.
The affordable apartments at the Artesan Lofts give preference and are designed to attract working artists throughout the Chicago region. Common area amenities include a gallery, a movement studio, music practice studios, and a collaboration laboratory with a technology lounge, work tables, and a green screen.
The 80,000-square-foot center is also a major step in a plan for the city to expand its cultural and artistic offerings. The Paramount School of the Arts is focused on arts education. The Paramount rehearsal spaces serve as the primary back-of-house spaces for the neighboring Paramount Theatre. The restaurant space is designed with a performing arts motif and is focused on serving the high demand for dining before and after performances at the theater next door.
The project is also creative in its financing, layering multiple sources of funding. Invest Aurora, a nonprofit organization, purchased the building from the local community college in support of the development and for repurposing it as the Aurora Arts Center. Financing for the apartments included low-income housing tax credits. The lower two floors were developed through a New Markets Tax Credit transaction for the Paramount School of the Arts, Paramount Theatre rehearsal spaces, and the restaurant. The city contributed about $4.8 million to the overall development, using several different programs.