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Thresholds joint venture leads to new supportive housing

Wed, Feb 19, 2014

Fred and Pamela Buffett Place is 51 units of supportive, affordable housing created in the redeveloped Diplomat Hotel through a public-private partnership. Residents will begin moving in this month.

Diplomat Hotel

The street view of the Diplomat Hotel, 3208 N. Sheffield Ave., before its renovation as Buffett Place. Photo: courtesy of Thresholds.

Located at 3208 N. Sheffield Ave., the Diplomat was a 95-unit SRO (Single Room Occupancy) hotel that had fallen into disrepair. After a series of code violations, the City of Chicago acquired the hotel in 2009. Buffet Place was the result of a partnership between the City and between Thresholds, the state’s largest provider of mental health services; and between Brinshore Development and 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney.
New Apartment at Buffett Place

A model apartment at the new Buffett Place. Photo: courtesy of Thresholds.

Thresholds and Brinshore formed a joint venture to respond to the City’s request for proposals. With Tunney’s support, they were selected and purchased the building for $1 on the condition they would develop affordable housing units for people with mental illness or other disabilities who were at risk of homelessness.

“I would love to have more opportunities like this in Lakeview and will continue to find new opportunities for supportive affordable housing in the neighborhood,” Tunney said.

Interior hallway

An interior before restoration. Photo: courtesy of Thresholds.

“With fewer and fewer affordable housing options for the population that we serve, Thresholds is very proud to be leading the movement towards a new affordable housing model,” said Thresholds CEO Mark Ishaug. “Buffett Place is a reality because of a partnership that combines the expertise of service providers, the business acumen of the private sector and a commitment from government officials to support efforts that preserve housing and services to a vulnerable population.”

The project is supplemented by $10.7 million in tax credits; total development costs were more than $13 million. Thresholds received generous donor support – most notably from Pamela Buffett — for services that will be offered in the building and to help residents with move-in costs.

Building amenities include rooftop and courtyard gardens and 1,800 square feet of retail space, including Urban Meadows, a social enterprise flower shop run by Thresholds members. The building’s sustainable features include: a green roof, solar thermal hot water, energy-efficient systems and appliances.

Thresholds Ribbon Cutting

Officials at the ribbon cutting Jan. 30.

Thresholds will serve as property manager and its trained staff will offer mental health and wellness programming as well as 24-hour security. Other services will include supported employment, case management and linkage to primary healthcare.

When applications opened last fall, Thresholds received more than 200 through Chicago Housing Authority referrals and both external and internal advertisement. In order to be eligible, residents had to prove they had a disability and income below 60 percent of AMI (area median income), which is just under $31,000 for an individual Chicagoan.

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