Coatsworth Apartments

Location: Galena, Illinois

Project Description & Impact: 18 affordable apartments for low-income seniors with community space and retail on the ground floor.

Client: Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation (d/b/a “Economic Growth Corporation”), Economic Growth Corporation (“Growth”) is a not-for-profit corporation that engages in all aspects of community development, from building and rehabbing affordable housing to revitalizing downtowns and neighborhoods, to spurring the creation of new jobs and businesses to providing capital in underserved areas. Growth also has subsidiary companies (or has helped to form entities) that provide management, construction, community development lending, and a community development entity (CDE) with an allocation of New Market Tax Credits.

Financing Tools Used: IHDA financing, Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credits (“State Donation Tax Credits”), and State Housing Trust Fund dollars


The Story Behind this Project

The Coatsworth Apartments are located in the old Grant family tannery store building on historic Main Street in downtown, Galena.  The building once housed the wholesale leather and harness store run by future President and General Ulysses S. Grant and his brothers, Simpson and Orvil, during the time that Grant lived in Galena, IL before going off to fight in a conflict that would soon be known as the Civil War.

Grant left Galena as a mere Captain in the US Army – his first action was to recruit 12 volunteers in tiny Hanover, IL just outside of Galena.  He made an unlikely rise to become Lieutenant-General of the US Armed Forces (a title that had only been held by one other individual — General George Washington himself).  Grant was an unlikely hero and an unlikely President – modest, hard-working, compassionate and kind, self-effacing but confident, and a leader who encouraged others to succeed and gave credit to those around him.  Frederick Douglas once said of U.S. Grant – “He was accessible to all men….The black soldier was welcome in his tent, the freedman in his house.”  Given this, it is only fitting that a little over 100 years after he left the tannery store to preserve government “by, of and for the people,” the old building that once housed his family’s business was transformed into affordable housing for seniors with fixed incomes.

Today, the Coatsworth Apartments provides decent affordable housing to seniors in a desirable, bustling historic downtown full of restaurants, parks, outdoor activities, and tourist attractions.  On the ground floor of the building is a sock shop and a senior center.  When Economic Growth Corporation was asked to look at acquiring the development, they found that the Apartments needed significant reinvestment in order to be updated for the 21st century and preserved as affordable housing.

Economic Growth Corporation stepped up to the challenge – they acquired the building, refreshed the property, the apartments and its amenities, made it energy-efficient, and preserved the building as long-term affordable housing while reducing operating costs and without raising rents.

Coatsworth Apartments may consist of only 18 affordable homes, but it is illustrative of the dozens of projects that Economic Growth Corporation has developed or supported – bringing investment, jobs, opportunity, and good housing to communities throughout Illinois and beyond.