Rendering of Ogden Commons, a $200 million project to be developed on mostly vacant land in North Lawndale. | Provided: Solomon Cordwell Buenz

City hopes $200 million project will help transform North Lawndale

SHARE City hopes $200 million project will help transform North Lawndale
SHARE City hopes $200 million project will help transform North Lawndale

The Chicago Plan Commission has approved a $200 million development that officials hope will help transform a struggling West Side neighborhood.

The first phase of the project – located on 10 acres of mostly vacant land in the North Lawndale neighborhood – is expected to begin in spring 2019, with120,000 square feet of commercial and retail space commercial being developed first followed by the construction of hundreds of rental housing units.

The Habitat Company is developing the project, located near Douglas Park and dubbed Ogden Commons, in partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority, Sinai Health System, Cinespace Chicago Film Studios and the city.

“I think this is a very exciting project because it’s a large-scale new development in the North Lawndale community area which has been neglected for many, many years,” said Charlton Hamer, senior vice president of Habitat Affordable Group, which focuses on affordable housing development.

Hamer said the development will include a mix of building types – walk-up flats, multi-family buildings and town homes – in addition to offering retail and commercial space. Habitat has already received letters of intent from restaurants and a major bank that want to occupy the retail spaces, he said, adding it was too early in the process to identify the interested businesses.

After the plan commission approved the project Thursday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement, “This builds on the city’s efforts to redevelop North Lawndale and further helps expand jobs and services for our residents.”

“It will bring a new vibrancy to this historic community and serve as an example of what partnerships can do to improve not just one neighborhood, but the city as a whole,” CHA CEO Eugene E. Jones Jr. said in a written statement.

Bordered by Ogden Avenue to the south, Fairfield Avenue to the west and Rockwell Street to the east, Ogden Commons will be located on the former site of CHA’s Lawndale development.

Officials say they expect the development to be completed by 2021, at which timeCinespace and Sinai will occupy a significant portion of the commercial space, expanding on their current locations on Ogden Avenue across from the Ogden Commons site.

The expansion of the Cinespace studio into Ogden Commons will bring additional jobs to the community, though it was not clear Friday how many jobs will be created.

“Ogden Commons will allow us to expand our job creation while developing new mixed-income housing along with much needed retail stores that currently do not exist in this community,” Alex Pissios, president of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, said in a statement.

Rendering of new Ogden Commons development in North Lawndale. | Provided: Solomon Cordwell Buenz

Rendering of new Ogden Commons development in North Lawndale. | Provided: Solomon Cordwell Buenz

It is hoped the mixed-income apartments will be occupied by employees of Cinespace and Sinai, and also serve as a housing option for employees of other North Lawndale businesses, including Lagunitas Brewing Company.

The development team will work closely with the city to implement extensive streetscape enhancements along Ogden Avenue, including decorative lighting, special pavers, landscaping and benches to enhance the area’s pedestrian environment and commercial viability, said Matt Fiascone, president of The Habitat Company.

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