Bywater Development Group Completes $14.2M Lofts on the Square in Belleville, Illinois

BELLEVILLE, Ill. — The Southwestern Illinois Development Authority (SWIDA) and Bywater Development Group have completed construction of Lofts on the Square, an affordable housing community in Belleville, a suburb of St. Louis.

The $14.2 million project was a historic rehabilitation of a 90-year-old building downtown Belleville’s public square. The property’s 47 units were fully preleased before the opening. The asset also features more than 3,000 feet of street-level commercial space that remains available for lease by retailers and restaurants.

The six-story building opened in 1931 as the Hotel Belleville. It was renovated in the early 1960s and converted into a residential community for seniors known as the Meredith Home. Prior to being acquired by SWIDA and Bywater Development from the City of Belleville for $600,000, the building was vacant for more than 10 years and at one time was slated for demolition.

The building earned a place on the National Register of Historical Places in 2018 as a prime example of the Art Deco architecture style, making it eligible for federal and state historic tax credits.

“The future of this building was uncertain for a long time, and we are proud to be bringing new vitality to downtown Belleville through the revitalization of this historically significant space that is once again a focal point of our city,” says SWIDA Chairman David Willey.

Holland Construction Services served as the general contractor for the renovation project, which involved completely updating the building’s systems, and the restoration of many of the building’s unique architectural characteristics, while incorporating several sustainable design elements

SWIDA and Bywater secured financing for the project from a variety of sources, including $930,792 in affordable tax credits through Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA); $2.3 million in federal historic tax credits through the National Park Service; and $2.3 million in Illinois state historic tax credits through the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office. These three tax credit allocations generated approximately $12.5 million in equity investment from PNC Bank. The funding was rounded out by a $1.3 million loan from IHDA’s HOME Program funds and $472,000 in developer loans secured by SWIDA and Bywater.

Project partners included Blank, Wesselink, Cook & Associates and Kaskaskia Engineering Group LLC., which handled the engineering; Louer Facility Planning Inc. for interior design; and architectural services were provided by WJW Architects, Mike Jerabek and Jane Sloss. Michael Allen of the Preservation Research Office served as the historic consultant.

Apartment rents at Lofts on the Square range from $550 for an efficiency and $615 for a one-bedroom unit to $750 for a two-bedroom unit.