Leasing to start for workforce housing at two former Aurora schools

Leasing at Aurora’s new workforce housing at two former schools on the West Side should start within the next 30 to 40 days.

That was the word from City Hall about the 47 workforce housing units at the former Lincoln and Todd schools.

The project includes redevelopment of both the former schools, and a new building at the Lincoln School site, 641 S. Lake St. All the housing is a mix of studio units, and one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

The renovation at Todd School, 100 Oak Ave., includes a 5,000-square-foot public health facility, to be run by VNA Health of Aurora, to provide free and subsidized care and community-based initiatives for use of residents with West Aurora School District school-age children.

The City Council in 2022 approved using $2.9 million of its HOME Investment Partnerships allocation toward the projects along with $600,000 from its Community Development Block Grant funds, both federally funded programs.

The projects are being developed by Oak Brook-based Visionary Ventures, and will be owned and managed by Fox Valley Apartments, which also will be the name of the buildings.

The projects were structured as a three-entity partnership between the city, Visionary Ventures and Fox Valley Apartments.

The housing is for working people, who must pass background checks and income-eligibility requirements, as authorized by the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

That state agency made available to the developers low-income housing tax credits to fund the bulk of the development.

Visionary Ventures has said the apartment units will be a mix of studio and one-, two- and three-bedroom units for tenants at 30% to 60% of the area’s median income.

That means the units are for people making between $18,000 and $63,000 a year, depending on family size. Tenants would pay for electricity for lights, cooking and air conditioning, and the landlord would pay for heat, water, sewer and garbage.

Both Lincoln and Todd were West Aurora School District elementary schools that closed. Both had significant public art in them, done by artists as part of the Works Progress Administration public art initiative during the Great Depression.

City officials guaranteed they would find new homes for the art – mostly murals but also including some figurines from Todd School – which must be displayed in public buildings.

The art has been saved and stored, but as yet officials are unsure where it will go.

“We have not finalized a plan yet for displaying the murals from the project,” Alex Alexandrou, the city’s chief management officer, said.