Revitalizing Communities through Historic Preservation – The Rehabilitation of the Kahl Family Mansion into the Gold Coast Apartments

Monarch Private Capital partnered with Gold Coast Housing, LLC to rehabilitate the Kahl Mansion located in Davenport, Iowa, into The Gold Coast Apartments for seniors. With the help of the Historic Tax Credit (HTC), the remarkable history of the property, as well as that of the Kahl family, was able to be preserved during the rehabilitation. Boasting much of the original, breathtaking architecture, the new development is still a landmark. In fact, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Gold Coast Apartments have fostered new opportunities within the community and continue to add to the ongoing growth of the area.

Located on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, the building now features 49 market-rate units from studios to 2+ bedrooms, now called The Gold Coast Apartments. Below the historic property is a lower-income neighborhood, and the new combination of incomes has helped advance the community when it otherwise may have been neglected.

“The development serves as an anchor to our neighborhood,” said Chris Ales, owner and developer of Gold Coast Apartments. “The $19.5M adaptive reuse as independent living apartments for seniors employed over 50 individuals for over two years.  And the addition of 49 luxury apartments in a previously blighted neighborhood continues to stimulate community revitalization through the City’s street and sidewalk improvements and the ongoing private investment in the renovation of the majestic, historic homes throughout the Gold Coast Historic District.”

Ales went on to recognize the character of the residents of The Gold Coast Apartments, highlighting how some are helping the neighborhood as they can during COVID-19.  “We’ve had a pharmacist, who is a resident of ours, donate masks to our amazing and essential cleaning staff, and one of our residents is a seamstress who has sewn masks for tenants who could not find one.” The staff are also going above and beyond, working with residents who may have trouble paying their rent as they wait for unemployment benefits. The Gold Coast Apartments as well as its residents provide a great impact on the community.

A Brief History

The Kahl Mansion was built in 1920 by Henry Kahl as his family home. It was designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style by Davenport architect Arthur Ebeling.  In 1954, Bishop Ralph Leo Hayes invited the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm to the diocese, and in 1955, they turned the house into a 25-bed, dormitory-style retirement home called the Kahl Home for the Aged and Infirmed.  Another addition in 1987 brought the total number of beds to 135. The original house provided living space for the sisters, offices, and guest rooms.  The facility was bought by Gold Coast Housing LLC from the Carmelite System Inc. in February 2015 when they moved locations.

Community Impact

The Kahl family’s philanthropic impact goes beyond their historic property. In 2003, Henry Kahl’s daughter, Elizabeth Kahl Figgie, and her husband V.O. Figgie donated $13.25M to the Davenport Museum of Art, which is now the Figgie Art Museum. With this generous donation, the Figgie Art Museum moved to its new home on the banks of the Mississippi River. Located just over a mile from The Gold Coast Apartments, The Figgie Art Museum serves as an incredible resource to an area that had few before. By providing studio space, classes, lectures and workshops for local colleges and universities, schools were able to expand their humanities and education programs.

About the Rehabilitation

The Kahl Mansion is a breathtaking property with an incredibly rich history. The rehabilitation of the property into the Gold Coast Apartments was handled with expertise and care in order to not only preserve but rather accentuate that history.

Perhaps, the most eye-popping of the 49 units are the five apartments created in the 1980s “tower” addition. When built, these curved, wall-of-windows spaces were the common dining rooms for residents, one for each floor.  In addition to the five rounded apartments in the 1987 tower addition, there are two, two-story apartments in the back. The two levels of these apartments are connected by new circular staircases.  The main nursing home area, including the chapel, has 36 apartments ranging from studios to two-bedroom, two-bath units. The 49th unit is the property’s carriage house.  The rear portion of the chapel has been walled off as a fitness area with eight stained glass windows.

About the Developer

Gold Coast Housing, LLC was organized in September of 2013 with the purpose of redeveloping the Kahl Mansion. Developer Chris Ales has completed several projects of similar size and scope, including the adaptive reuse of the former Marycrest College campus, and the St. Katherine’s Episcopal school, both in Davenport, as well as the Welch Hotel in Muscatine, Iowa and Hurst Hotel in Maquoketa, Iowa.  These projects received awards from local, state and federal agencies, including the Iowa State Historic Preservation Commission and HUD.  Having successfully completed $100M of similar developments and having over 30 years of experience as a CPA, including several years as a Senior Manager at Deloitte & Touche, Ales is uniquely qualified for these types of projects.