Hoping to muster developer interest in more neighborhood commercial stretches, city planners are soliciting proposals for two parts of Humboldt Park and property straddling South Shore and South Chicago.
The Department of Planning and Development issued the “request for proposals” as part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Invest South/West initiative. Responses are due Aug. 31, and officials want to pick winning proposals later this year after getting community feedback.
The effort follows two other rounds of RFPs the city has issued for sites in seven communities. It has chosen the winning development plans in three of them — Auburn Gresham, Austin and Englewood. Together, those areas have drawn projects worth about $65 million.
Planning Commissioner Maurice Cox said the mayor wants to spur investments on well-traveled corridors, inspiring others to invest in the neighborhood. He called the approach “surgical. It is going in and filling in the gaps.”
“We’re thrilled at how everyone is buying into the notion that these communities should get excellent design,” Cox said.
The chosen plans must go through standard zoning reviews that require City Council approval. The planning department said it will consider public incentives, such as tax increment financing, to cinch each deal.
The new sites getting RFPs:
4000-08 W. North Ave./1616-38 N. Pulaski Road — The property includes a parking lot and the long-vacant Pioneer Bank Building, a city landmark. Goals include commercial and housing development, public open space and a place to celebrate local arts and culture.
3601-25 W. Chicago Ave. — The block-long site includes two one-story buildings and parking. The RFP asks for a multi-story residential building with ground-floor retail and space for Neighborhood Housing of Services of Chicago, which is currently at the site.
2908-26 E. 79th St./7901-33 S. Exchange Ave. — The two-part location includes three vintage low-rise buildings and vacant land next to the Metra Electric Line’s Cheltenham station. The goals include a transit-oriented residential building with some commercial space.
Except for a city-owned lot at 7909 S. Exchange Ave., all the property is in private hands. Officials said the property owners are participating in the process and have agreed to coordinate their sales with the chosen developers.
Cox said the property owners are happy to cooperate because the city is bringing them interested buyers or users that they have been unable to find on their own.
Each RFP included conceptual renderings, done for inspiration and non-binding on the respondents, by the architectural firms HED, JGMA and bKL. All worked for free under a program run by the Chicago Central Area Committee.
The planning department expects to have pre-bid meetings in mid-May to answer developers’ questions about the sites and available subsidies.