A Latino cultural center, an incubator for entrepreneurs and more than 180 residential units are among the projects slated to revive blighted properties in Humboldt Park and South Shore. They are in the latest wave of city-selected developments under Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Invest South/West initiative.
City officials today announced the winning bidders poised to develop a trio of mixed-use projects in the neighborhoods totaling $126 million. It’s the third batch of developments chosen by the city’s Planning Department under Lightfoot’s two-year-old program to steer $750 million in public funding and resources into 10 designated South and West Side neighborhoods.
The three newest selections (see details and renderings of each below) were chosen out of six responses to a request for proposals to transform properties along high-profile commercial corridors in each neighborhood. The developers behind each plan will now begin gathering community feedback to their projects, seek city approvals to move ahead and, perhaps most important, work to secure financing.
A lack of financial backing has historically hamstrung projects like those selected as part of Invest South/West, given investors’ reticence to plow money into neighborhoods suffering from population loss, poverty, inadequate housing and fleeting retailers. The city has lined up a menu of options to help grease the skids for Invest South/West projects, including tax-increment financing, public funds for small business grants and other sweeteners to help get developers to complete projects.
Planning Commissioner Maurice Cox said he’s been pleased with the “pipeline” of projects lined up through Invest South/West, but “now our challenge is to get these projects ready,” he said. He expects projects in Englewood, Auburn Gresham and Austin—the first three selected through the city’s RFP process—to break ground in 2022.
“I think we’ve turned a corner on people’s question of, ‘If you solicit equitable development (in blighted neighborhoods), will they come?’ The answer is they will come, and I think it’s a new day for development on the South and West sides,” Cox said.
Including the three newest selections, 10 projects totaling more than $300 million worth of investment have now been selected through Invest South/West RFPs. Cox said the process will continue into 2022 with new RFPs, but said ensuing ones will primarily focus on housing projects that are adjacent to the commercial corridors the city has targeted thus far.
“We’re trying to build the rooftops to support the locally serving retail that we’re anchoring on the corridor,” he said.
Here are the details behind the latest winning bids for each site:
HUMBOLDT PARK: 4000-08 W. North Ave./1616-38 N. Pulaski Road
A group led by Chicago-based Park Row Development and JGMA Architects is behind “Team Pioneros,” which plans to renovate the landmark Pioneer Bank building at North Avenue and Pulaski Road to include an entrepreneurial incubator space, a Latino cultural center and office space for JGMA.
A parking lot immediately north of the building would be developed with the site’s most striking feature: A nine-story, 75-unit apartment building made up entirely of affordable units, offices for Humboldt Park Family Health and a potential Chicago Public Library branch.
The site is eligible for tax increment financing funding, and a developer could receive New Markets Tax Credits and historic tax credits related to the Pioneer Bank building.
The full project is estimated to cost $53.9 million, which would be the most expensive project selected so far from Invest South/West RFPs.
HUMBOLDT PARK: 3601-25 W. Chicago Ave.
At the southwest corner of Chicago and Central Park avenues, a joint venture of Chicago-based KMW Communities and Preservation of Affordable Housing aims to develop a five-story, mixed-use complex dubbed “The Ave.”
The $25.3 million project would include 44 mixed-income apartment units and around 21,000 square feet of commercial space for a restaurant, gym and day care.
The commercial portion also would include a new office for the Neighborhood Housing Services, which already occupies a small commercial building on the site. KMW, led by affordable-housing developer Bill Williams, also was part of the group selected through the previous wave of Invest South/West projects to redevelop a city-owned site on 47th Street in Bronzeville.
SOUTH SHORE: 2908-26 E. 79th St./7901-33 S. Exchange Ave.
A joint venture led by prominent South Side developer DL3 Realty—which recently revived vacant Target stores in Morgan Park and Chatham with big new corporate tenants—was selected to redevelop a handful of sites next to the Cheltenham station on Metra’s Electric Main Line.
The group’s $47.3 million plan, dubbed “Thrive Exchange,” would renovate the neighborhood’s historic Ringer Building for commercial use with 24 condominiums adjacent to the building and another 39 apartments on the south side of 79th Street.
DL3 partnered with Revere Properties and Claretian for the bid.