The 2013 National Trust/HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation was awarded at the National Preservation Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana on Friday, November 1, 2013 to Sherman Associates for its rehabilitation of 1,303 housing units in the Riverside Plaza.
The Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation recognizes efforts that both advance the nation’s historic preservation goals and provide affordable housing and economic development opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents. Riverside Plaza, an interconnected complex of 15 buildings with residential and commercial space designed by architect Ralph Rapson and built in 1973, was intended to be the first phase of an urban community in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood. The other phases of the development were never built and the complex, one of the largest HUD-supported projects in the United States, soon encountered financial problems and fell into disrepair. As a 1970s landmark of exceptional historical and architectural importance, Riverside Plaza earned National Historic Register status in 2010, allowing Sherman Associates to use federal and state historic tax credits to fund a two-year rehabilitation of the complex’s apartments, public plaza, parking structure, and common areas.
Renovations to Riverside Plaza included retrofitting windows and replacing HVAC equipment, water supply lines, and patio doors. To improve safety, elevators in the buildings were upgraded and a sprinkler fire-suppression system was added. The building facades were also renovated to feature the complex’s original playful color scheme. The rehabilitated Riverside Plaza will extend the life of the complex’s 1,303 housing units, 90 percent of which are affordable to households earning less than 60 percent of area median income, for another 40 years.