The Rosenwald rides again

Plans are on track to convert the Michigan Garden Apartments, at 47th and Michigan, on the South Side, into a lush complex of more than 300 units, according to Geraldo Roman, of Roman Realty Group.
Roman plans to market the development by a group of investors beginning this summer. Known locally as the Rosenwald, the complex was once a showcase of multi-family living, large graceful apartments forming a perimeter around a massive green courtyard.

Today, the Rosenwald is a boarded-up hulk, and it’s impossible to tell from the faded exterior the beauty that once existed inside. That beauty soon will return, according to Roman, who says that current plans call for about 325 condos, although the number has not been finalized. Demolition is underway and at press time, the developers were preparing to build out models, Roman said.

Some of the interior courtyard will be devoted to parking in the redesign, but given the size of the complex, that should still leave plenty of green space. The ground-floor space along 47th Street will include new retail that can be accessed both from the street and from within the development, Roman said.

“Whatever (commercial) tenants anchor the development, will have exposure to the courtyard, so people who live within the complex will be able to sit down and eat within the courtyard,” Roman said. In addition to restaurants, he envisions users such as coffee shops, a convenience store and a dry cleaner.

The four-story structure will have simplex and duplex condos with two to four bedrooms, probably starting in the upper $200s, according to Roman. The complex covers a square block between Michigan and Wabash, from 46th to 47th and the conversion is worth $55 million to $60 million, according to Roman.

A large-scale condo conversion would have seemed unlikely here a few years ago, but nearby building and the redevelopment of Chicago Housing Authority projects have created opportunities throughout Bronzeville and adjacent neighborhoods. Buyers will gain confidence, Roman said, from the size of this project and the security of its massive courtyard.

“That’s a lot of the attraction,” Roman said. “Having the security of the courtyard and making it appear attractive will be big sellers. And because of the magnitude of the project, it won’t be long before there’s a lot of development around us. Since we acquired the building about a year ago, already there’s talk of builders doing stuff on its edges.”

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