Chicago nonprofit lone bidder for Mahencha
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/302-0949 September 30, 2013 10:58PM
The Mahencia Apartments, shown in 2003, once were owned by former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: November 2, 2013 6:25AM
GARY — A Chicago not-for-profit organization submitted the lone bid Monday to acquire Mahencha Apartments.
Turnstone Development Inc. offered $35,000 for the crumbling 44,000-square foot 86-year-old apartment complex, saying it plans to turn it into 32 housing units for moderate and low income residents.
The Redevelopment Commission tentatively accepted the bid, conditional upon meeting with Turnstone and reviewing its financial and design plan for the dilapidated, but historic structure at 1900 W. 5th Ave.
The commission will hold a 4 p.m. meeting Wednesday to consider final approval of the sale.
Commission President Forest Hayes said Turnstone hopes to secure historic tax credits to renovate Mahencha, built during the city’s early boom period. “We’d like to talk with them and make sure they have a program in place to secure financing,” Hayes said.
In its bid, Turnstone said the architect for the project would be Piekarz Associates of Chicago and the general contractor would be Burling Builders, also from Chicago.
Elzie Higginbottom, a financial backer of Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and former Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, is president of Burling Builders and he’s a board member of Turnstone.
In June, Higginbottom, president and CEO of East Lake Management & Development Corp., won a long-term lease from the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority to build a hangar for an aircraft and refueling operation called B. Coleman Aviation.
There have been three previous attempts by not-for-profit groups to acquire Mahencha, but they all failed.
Hayes said U.S. Housing and Urban Development loan money used in the 2001 attempt by Tree of Life Community Development Corp. would be recaptured if a new developer completes the renovation.
Turnstone’s website lists properties it has developed across Chicagoland, including one in Calumet City called Victory Centre of River Oaks. Its website says it’s developed more than 1,300 properties since 1998.