The Cook County PACE Program, administered by the Illinois Energy Conservation Authority NFP (“IECA”), an Illinois tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, said Nov. 22 that it closed its first project utilizing Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (“C-PACE”) financing to support the renovation for of Chicago’s historic Ramova Theatre. C-PACE financing represents $7.4 million or approximately 25 percent of the total $28 million project.
“I’m thrilled that Cook County is leveraging this program to renovate and improve an important community resource like the historic Ramova Theatre. C-PACE has allowed us to bring this neighborhood treasure back to life,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “This program is not only cost-efficient – it also represents a vital step forward in creating a more equitable Cook County. By building vibrant, sustainable, and inclusive communities where people want to live, learn, work, play, and grow, everyone ends up better off. And I look forward to more property owners throughout Cook County taking advantage of the C-PACE Program.”
The Ramova Theatre is located at 3510-3520 South Halsted Street in the heart of Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. Built in 1929, the 36,000-square-foot property has remained vacant since 1985.
Renovation of the site is a collaboration spearheaded by Chicago-based Our Revival LLC and Baum Revision, in conjunction with local developers, contractors and architects. C-PACE capital covered renovations that increase the thermal performance of the historic building envelope, upgrades to energy efficient HVAC systems, LED lighting, hot water systems and low flow fixtures.
Twain Financial Partners, an investment management firm with more than $4 billion in assets under management within the public-private partnership sector, was the PACE capital provider.
Once complete, the restored Ramova Theatre will feature a 1,600-seat ground level auditorium with additional balcony-level seating, a theater grill and an adjacent brewery and tap room. The venue will enhance Bridgeport’s established entertainment presence and provide area schools and community groups with an additional option to host events.
Introduced in 2019, C-PACE financing is an innovative tool that provides low-cost, long-term financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, and resiliency projects in commercial buildings.
Cook County commercial property owners can obtain up to 100 percent upfront financing from private capital providers for qualified upgrades such as HVAC, lighting and solar photovoltaic systems, and many more, in both existing buildings and new construction projects.
“C-PACE financing was a critical component of the capital structure for the Ramova Theatre as it reduced the need for traditional debt and works efficiently with the historic tax credit equity and TIF funding associated with the project,” said Scott Goldman, principal at FarPoint Development. “We found the City and County to be great to work with and are grateful for their support of the project.”
C-PACE financing stimulates economies by funding the upfront capital for projects that may lower operating costs, generate clean energy, instill resiliency and promote water use conservation in commercial properties. From 2009 to 2020, C-PACE programs have funded more than 2,500 qualifying projects nationwide for a total of $2 billion, while also creating over 22,400 jobs.
“Climate change is very real and everyone has to be part of the solution, including commercial property owners,” said Xochitl Flores, bureau chief of Economic Development. “We must work to create and support new programs for clean energy in Cook County that also enhance the quality of our lives, supports implementing energy efficient capital improvements, adds jobs and will reduce costs. That is why we created the C-PACE program.”