Developer looks to place Century Woods Apartments on historic register

Local News

It could save them $2.4 million in renovation costs

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois — An old Rock Island apartment complex is getting a second life with the help of its historic past.

A developer is investing millions of dollars into Century Woods Apartments near 4th Street and 14th Avenue. It comes after city leaders made it and another complex part of a tax increment financing district.

But the developer is looking to cash in on the apartments’ past by putting it on the National Register of Historic Places.

The complex, originally known as Arsenal Courts, was built in 1941 for about $1.7 million as part of the New Deal.

“It instead started out as housing for workers on the Arsenal during the second World War. There was a great shortage of housing this area,” said City of Rock Island spokesperson Miles Brainard. “In that way, it’s a very historic property even though it’s not a Victorian house or something like that.”

If added to the list, the developer could get a 20% tax credit.

“It’s basically meant to help people who are rehabbing these buildings kind of cover that extra gap when they do the work right,” Brainard said.

City records show the developer plans to invest at least $12 million in renovations. So the tax credit would reimburse about $2.4 million of that.

“The architect responsible for the project was very committed to very egalitarian housing that was actually nicer than a lot of housing at the time being designed,” Brainard said.

But nearly 80 years later, residents are ready for a face lift.

“My tub is all tore up so we have to like use one of those mats so our kids don’t get cut on the tub,” said Dara Baguss, who has lived at Century Woods for four years. “There’s a hole in our kitchen wall … The maintenance keeps fixing it but it keeps falling in … The carpet’s all stained up.”

Reports also found asbestos and lead based paint in the units.

“They definitely do need to be renovated,” Baguss said.

The state will make a final decision on whether or not the apartments are a historic place next month. Renovations are expected to continue into next year.

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