PARIS, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — A building that served as a high school for more than 100 years will soon find new purpose.

Officials gathered at the old Paris High School building Thursday for a “wall-breaking” of the Tiger Senior Apartment Complex, an affordable housing structure.

“It took a lot of people a lot of time and a lot of effort,” Mayor Craig Smith said of the project that was four years in the making.

The project is a collaboration between the City of Paris, the Illinois Housing Development Authority and the Laborer’s Home Development Corporation.

“This will be our third affordable housing project. which is unbelievable for a city our size,” Smith said.

The City of Paris previously worked with the IHDA and LHDC to build Maple Ridge I and Maple Ridge II apartment complexes. This will be the first project geared toward the senior population.

Named for the Paris High School mascot, the development will undergo a complete rehabilitation to preserve and restore the historic building that has been largely empty since students moved to a new campus after the 2014-2015 school year. 

“This is a great opportunity that will bring quality senior housing to the area while saving a local landmark that had an uncertain future,” IHDA Executive Director Kristin Faust said. “Tiger Senior Apartments will go a long way to meet the growing demand for affordable senior housing in Edgar County, and we’re grateful to have had the city’s support as our partners worked to preserve this piece of neighborhood history.”

The project is largely financed by federal tax credits awarded by IHDA that will generate more than $8.5 million in private capital to offset the cost of construction.

In addition, the City of Paris donated the school building and land to the non-profit sponsor which generated an allocation of Illinois State Donation Tax Credits from IHDA.

The finished building will include 42 units in a mixture of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments with new appliances and finishes. The development will have an on-site management office, gymnasium, auditorium, kitchen and lounges.

The building will be brought up to current accessibility standards and will receive numerous upgrades including masonry restoration, replacement of large existing windows, complete replacement of fire suppression, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, a new elevator and energy code-related upgrades. Site amenities will include an exterior sitting area with benches and new landscaping.

All 42 units will be reserved for households earning no more than 60 percent of the Area Median Income, or $31,860 for a two-person household in Edgar County.

“This building of over 100 years old will be one of the greatest senior affordable living houses in the state of Illinois, I promise,” Mayor Smith said. “People in this community cannot wait to sign up to move in.”

Construction is scheduled to be completed in December of 2020. Leasing will begin in August of 2020. For more information, contact the Laborers’ Home Development Corporation at (217) 789-6994.