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City seeks investment for four neglected commercial stretches

It’s a way to direct developer attention to neighborhoods targeted for improvement under Mayor Lightfoot’s Invest South/West initiative.

A city owned lot in the 400 block of East 47th Street in Bronzeville, which city officials want to transform into a mixed-use building site with housing and commercial use.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

City planners said Friday they will solicit development ideas for four commercial parcels in neighborhoods targeted for intensive public improvements under Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Invest South/West program.

The sites consist mostly of city-owned property in Bronzeville, New City, North Lawndale and South Chicago. The request for proposals, or RFPs, will include general development goals arrived at in discussions with community residents.

The hope is that activity on neglected but busy streets will encourage private investment in surrounding blocks.

The Department of Planning and Development also said it received 12 responses to an earlier RFP round for developer interest in three commercial stretches of Auburn Gresham, Austin and Englewood. Those replies are being reviewed. They will be made public in early December, and finalists could be chosen in February, said department spokesman Peter Strazzabosco.

The new round of RFPs involves these locations:

Bronzeville, 449-51 E. 47th St.: a more than half-acre vacant site that’s city-owned on the southwest corner of 47th Street and Vincennes Avenue. Officials are looking for a mixed-use building with housing and ground-floor commercial space, with open space to take advantage of proximity to the Harold Washington Cultural Center.

New City, 1515 W. 47th St.: a city lot on the southeast corner of 47th and Justine streets, where community goals include retail, institutional use and affordable housing.

North Lawndale, 3400-18 W. Ogden Ave.: a stretch of seven mostly city-owned lots from Homan to Trumbull avenues, where the goal is mixed-use structures that also add to open space for pedestrians on a heavily traveled street.

South Chicago, 8840-54 S. Commercial Ave.: a mix of city- and privately-owned property, including multi-level buildings and a retail structure owned by the Cook County Land Bank Authority. Officials are aiming for renovations to the multi-level buildings and new development on the rest of the site.

“These four new sites each possess the exciting potential to rejuvenate neighborhoods on our South and West sides that need new investment now more than ever,” Lightfoot said in a statement from the department. “With strategic placement near public transportation and other neighborhood amenities, these developments will also enhance the quality of life for our residents and keep them connected to the resources they need to feel supported.”

By issuing an RFP rather than simply putting properties out for bids, the city can consider factors aside from price in deciding whether to accept a developer’s proposal. However, respondents will be asked to put up 10% of a property’s appraised value as earnest money. The appraisals are to be completed in a few weeks, Strazzabosco said.

The deadline for responses is March 30. Strazzabosco said the new RFPs will be posted on the city’s Invest South/West web portal on Monday.

The program represents Lightfoot’s pledge to direct $750 million in public funding in the next three years to 10 neighborhoods on the South and West sides that have suffered from disinvestment.