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Lightfoot announces $126 million in projects for Humboldt Park, South Shore

The developments covering housing, community services and historic renovations are part of the mayor’s Invest South/West program for equitable investment.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot sits beside Samir Mayekar, Chicago’s deputy mayor for economic and neighborhood development, during the awarding of Invest/Southwest winners at the South Shore Cultural Center in the South Shore neighborhood, Thursday morning, Nov. 18, 2021. Lightfoot awarded a total of $126 million to three different teams that will build three residential, commercial and community spaces in Humboldt Park and South Shore.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday awarded a total of $126 million to three different teams that will build three residential, commercial and community spaces in Humboldt Park and South Shore. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

City officials have chosen development teams for projects in three commercial corridors — two in Humboldt Park and one in South Shore — representing a $126 million investment, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday.

The projects are part of the mayor’s Invest South/West initiative to encourage development in needy areas. Plans include mixed-income housing, reuse of historic buildings and space for community services.

Lightfoot announced the projects during an event at the South Shore Cultural Center where she marked the two-year anniversary of Invest South/West, her signature effort to spread investment more equitably. At the celebratory gathering, Lightfoot said her administration is focused on overlooked communities and working with the private sector on projects that are “positive, catalytic and, importantly, long-lasting.”

The mayor added, “These projects are designed to enhance the quality of life for our residents [and] spark new and complementary development and investments.”

With community input, the city’s Planning Department picked the developers as part of a competitive request-for-proposals process. Officials were free to consider plans on a range of standards, including design quality and financial feasibility.

Each project now heads into the city’s standard review process, which could lead to changes. The final step is approval by the City Council.

Maurice Cox, the city’s commissioner of planning and development, said he hopes each development can break ground in the fall of 2022.

The three sites announced Thursday, each of which drew two proposals, join seven others the city previously awarded in South and West Side neighborhoods that could be started next year.

The newest winning proposals:

The development proposed for the southwest corner of Chicago and Central Park avenues.
The development proposed for the southwest corner of Chicago and Central Park avenues.
Provided

• A $25.3 million project at the southwest corner of Chicago and Central Park avenues. The 0.6-acre site will get a five-story building with 44 housing units, 21,000 square feet for a restaurant, gym and day care and offices for Neighborhood Housing Services. It’s backed by a joint venture of KMW Communities, Preservation of Affordable Housing and Communities Empowered through Construction.

The development eyed for the northwest corner of North Avenue and Pulaski Road, with the landmark Pioneer Bank building on the left.
The development eyed for the northwest corner of North Avenue and Pulaski Road, with the landmark Pioneer Bank building on the left.
Provided

• A $53.9 million project at the northwest corner of North Avenue and Pulaski Road. The landmark Pioneer Bank building on the corner would be turned into office space and a Latino cultural center. Adjoining property would get a nine-story, 75-unit residential building with offices for Humboldt Park Family Health and a possible library branch. It’s proposed by Park Row Development, architectural firm JGMA and All Construction Group.

A rendering of plans near 79th Street and Exchange Avenue. The Ringer Building has the arched entrances. City officials said the building dates from 1928.
A rendering of plans near 79th Street and Exchange Avenue. The Ringer Building has the arched entrances. City officials said the building dates from 1928.
Provided

• A $47.3 million project abutting Metra’s Cheltenham station near 79th Street and Exchange Avenue. The neighborhood would get 39 rental units, rehabilitation of the historic Ringer Building for commercial use and 24 adjacent condos. Backers are DL3 Realty, Revere Properties and Claretian Associates.

Most of the property is in private hands, but Cox said owners are working with the city. “We were given permission to market the properties on their behalf,” he said in an interview. “They are committed to selling to the winning developers.”

Cox said owners have an incentive to work with the city because “if we were not involved there, [the properties] would just sit there vacant.”

Invest South/West has attracted developers to busy but neglected corridors with plans that could prompt other private investment, Cox said. “This is what equity paired with action looks like,” he said.

Some developers and investors have said they are nervous about Chicago because of growing crime. Cox, however, said Invest South/West is part of Lightfoot’s crime-fighting strategy because it will bring jobs and hope to neglected areas. “Development is the reason neighborhoods become safe,” he said, citing new shops that fill vacant storefronts and “more eyes on the street.”

Lightfoot said Invest South/West to date has inspired $1.4 billion in investments for its 10 targeted communities. The total includes public works by various agencies and $575 million in corporate and philanthropic pledges.

The city has one large development site still to award in its request-for-proposals process, the 21 acres at Roosevelt Road and Kostner Avenue, where four development teams are vying. Cox said the winner has been picked and will be announced by Lightfoot in a few weeks.

Asked if the winner has been informed, Cox said, “If they have, they are subject to a nondisclosure agreement.”