City invites ideas for West Garfield Park, Roseland properties

The plan borrows an approach used to focus developers’ attention on other neighborhoods while adding a financial incentive,

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Volunteers load bags of food for a grocery distribution event outside an Aldi on Madison Street that abruptly closed in 2021.

Volunteers load bags of food for a grocery distribution event outside an Aldi on Madison Street that abruptly closed in 2021.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Expanding efforts to bring investment to neighborhood commercial streets, city officials Tuesday invited developers’ proposals for stretches of West Garfield Park and Roseland while adding an incentive to get more of them to apply.

The Department of Planning and Development solicited interest for the south side of Madison Street, between Hamlin Boulevard and Springfield Avenue, and for three sites in Roseland in its Michigan Avenue business area.

The Madison Street parcels include a former Aldi that abruptly closed last year. The Roseland properties include the former site of the Gately People’s Store, the former Roseland Theatre and a parcel alongside where the CTA plans a station for its extended Red Line.

The sites involve a mix of city-owned and privately held parcels. “We want to develop a community vision that will move the private owners to understand the potential of their properties,” said Maurice Cox, commissioner of planning and development.

The plan borrows a page from the city’s Invest South/West program to focus attention on underutilized portions of commercial streets in lower-income areas. Developers and potential partners such as architectural firms are asked to submit qualifications by Jan. 27. Cox said the city hopes to reach a short list of three favored teams, evaluate their proposals and pick winners in May.

To encourage more teams to apply, Cox said the Chicago Community Trust is offering each short-listed team $25,000 to cover the cost of initial proposals. Cox called the grants “game-changers” that will help emerging developers participate. He said that for similar initiatives, the city has gotten complaints that it’s too costly to submit development ideas only to have somebody else’s plan selected.

The grants, which could total $300,000 if the city short-lists three applicants for each site, would remove that obstacle, Cox said.

“It’s time to change the narrative of vacant land from liability to opportunity and put resources behind it,” Chris Eagan, program manager for the Community Trust’s Catalyzing Neighborhood Investment strategy, said in a statement released by the city. Eagan said that because of the grants, “developers of color will play a critical role in the long-overdue resurgence of two storied neighborhoods.”

For each parcel, the city suggested broad outlines for a development that aren’t binding on any applicant.

For a 1.8-acre section of Madison Street just west of Garfield Park, the city suggested various combinations of a grocery-anchored retail project with perhaps more than 100 units of housing. The former Aldi could be renovated or demolished, depending on the favored layout, and developers should allow for courtyards or other open space, city officials suggested.

The three Roseland sites cover 4.3 acres along what was once a leading retail market on the South Side. The old Gately’s store was torn down after a fire in 2019. The city’s proposal imagines housing on the parcel with single-family homes or townhomes on a section along Edbrooke Avenue.

The Roseland Theatre and empty land next to it could become offices or performing arts space, city documents said. Cox said the theater is vacant but with a private owner eager to cooperate with the city.

Land near the proposed Red Line station south of 115th Street and Michigan could get a food market, restaurants and other small businesses, officials said.

The former Roseland Theatre at 11331 S. Michigan Ave.

The former Roseland Theatre at 11331 S. Michigan Ave.

Patrick L.Pyszka, Samuel Sotelo-Avila/City of Chicago

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