‘Workforce housing’ breaks ground in McHenry

Taylor Place Apartments will offer 50 units for those working in the community who might not be able to afford to live in county

Jack Victor, of Northpointe, and Richard Koenig of  the Housing Opportunity Development Corporation, invite dignitaries to turn a shovel of dirt before the rain set in Monday during the groundbreaking for the Taylor Place Apartments in McHenry.

By early next summer, residents should be able to begin applying for the Taylor Place Apartments in McHenry, said Richard Koenig, director of the nonprofit Housing Opportunity Development Corporation.

Koenig, along with Jake Victor of the for-profit developer Northpointe, have been working with the McHenry County Board and the city of McHenry, along with other agencies, for the past three years to get the workforce housing project underway at 4105 W. Crystal Lake Road. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held Monday at the largely-industrial site at Crystal Lake Road and North Mill Street.

Once completed – scheduled to be in Fall 2025 – the Taylor Place Apartments will offer 50 rental units to residents who earn 30% to 80% of the county’s median income. Generally, Koenig said, those residents earn between $10-$15 an hour. “It varies by the number of people (per family) and bedroom size,” he added.

Koenig calls the financial backing for the apartments a “lasagna of funding,” including $800,000 from the McHenry County board via the American Rescue Plan Act funding, various grants and tax credits that invite private equity from funders. It’s “a layer of this funding, and a layer of this” to make up the total project, he said.

Architect's rendering of the proposed Taylor Place Apartments in McHenry. A groundbreaking was held for the project on Monday, April 1, 2024.

The tax credit portion – written into IRS code – allows private financiers to purchase tax credits, dollar-for-dollar, for 10 years. “You can buy stocks, bonds, have a savings account, or buy tax credits. It is just an investment,” Koenig said. For 10 years, the investors then get a break on their tax bills. As the development will not have a mortgage, his organization keeps rents low and therefore affordable, Koenig said.

The funding from McHenry County will go to the renovations and repurposing, said County Board Chairman Mike Buehler. He supported the workforce housing project, Buehler added.

Workforce housing is essential for economic development in McHenry County, ensuring people who work in the county can afford to live here, too. “If people can’t afford to live here, it is difficult to come here to work,” Beuhler said. “In the last three to four years, housing in general has been in a crisis” even as apartments are going up around the county. He added that “$2,600 for a two-bedroom apartment is not affordable for a lot of young families or kid just out of college, or for seniors on fixed incomes.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, was also instrumental in obtaining the ARPA funds, Beuhler said.

While eight of the 50 units will be Section 8 housing, a majority are renters paying directly to the property management, based on their income, Koenig said. Two existing buildings on the McHenry site, part of the former Old Feed Mill, will be repurposed for the project. Other part of the site will be torn down for townhouse-style apartments and 27 garages, Victor added.

Victor also points out that 50 apartments in the area, with several empty storefronts, can be an economic “catalyst for economic development in the area,” as well as provide riders for the McHenry Metra station.