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Karcher Artspace Lofts

Looking Up in Downtown Waukegan

405 Washington Street Waukegan, IL, 60085


The City of Waukegan commands a strategic Lake Michigan site midway between Milwaukee and Chicago. Shipping and manufacturing were its economic lifeblood for decades, but now the city is reinventing itself in the post-industrial age and turning to the arts to help drive economic revitalization of its downtown area. 

For Waukegan, an important step in the process was the renovation of the historic Karcher Hotel into a mixed-use arts facility. This nine-story building, located a block from City Hall, originally opened in 1928 as a 140-room hotel. But like most of downtown Waukegan, it fell on hard times. By the 1970's it had been turned into a senior citizens’ residence, and had stood vacant since 1984 when Artspace entered the scene. 

Artspace renovated the Karcher investing $14.6 million to create 36 units of affordable live/work space for creatives and their families plus 2,811 square feet of ground-floor retail and community space for arts-friendly businesses and nonprofit organizations. Other features of the property include an open entry area space used to host small community gatherings and exhibit art work/ a resident computer lounge and meeting space/ and a outdoor patio. 

Architect: 4240 Architecture

Contractor: Pepper Construction

Funders: Abdula Family Foundation; AT&T; First Bank of Highland Park; First Midwest Bank; Fred W. Losch Beverage Company; Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelly Foundation; Henry Pfau Callahan Memorial Foundation; Beth Levine; William & Suzanne Lindsay; Midwest Generation; NorStates Bank; North Shore Gas; North Shore Trust and Savings; The Richard H. Driehaus FoundationThe McArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus FoundationWaukegan Park District; Waukegan Savings Bank; Dave & Sandi Whitmore. Artspace thanks the many individuals and local businesses that continue to support this project.

Financial Partners: City of Waukegan Illinois Housing Development Authority; JP Morgan Chase; IFF; Lake County; Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity; Raymond James Tax Credit Funds, Inc.; Waukegan Park District

est. 2012

Type of Development:

Live/Work Artist Housing

Number of Units:


Total Square Footage:


Community Space Sq. Ft.:


Types of Units:

One-, Two-, and Three-Bedroom Units
Ranging in size from 665 to 1,441 square feet

Total Project Cost: