The proposed $65 million worth of projects are part of City Hall’s plan to encourage investment in neglected areas.
Three areas targeted for improvement under Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Invest South/West program will get an estimated $65 million in commercial development under plans announced Monday.
The projects are supposed to revitalize commercial stretches of Auburn Gresham, Austin and Englewood. The city’s planning department, after sessions with community groups, selected the winners from among 12 development teams who answered a call for proposals made last year.
The favored projects include 56 units of affordable housing with a playground and private gardens in Auburn Gresham; a blues museum and commercial and residential development that includes a landmark building in Austin; and a new phase of the Englewood Square Shopping Center at 63rd and Halsted streets that would turn an old firehouse into a commercial kitchen and a business incubator for culinary startups.
Lightfoot, in announcing the projects at an event in Austin, said each will inspire other private investments nearby while providing employment. “Initiatives such as Invest South/West are critical in advancing our goal to enhance the socioeconomic vibrancy of our historic South and West Sides,” Lightfoot said in prepared remarks. “Each of these winning proposals will contribute to this goal by giving residents access to new and exciting cultural, affordable housing and employment resources.”
Factors an evaluation committee used in picking the winners included design quality, financial viability and diverse ownership of the development teams. Officials said it was the first time proposals have been reviewed with an explicit goal of encouraging minority-owned firms.
Each project will require zoning changes subject to City Council approval. If there are no hitches, construction could begin by the end of the year, officials said.
The development teams selected:
• In Auburn Gresham at 838 W. 79th St., Evergreen Real Estate Group and Imagine Group’s plan for affordable housing and open space involves construction of 77,150 square feet to complement a healthy lifestyle hub across the street.
• In Austin at 5200 W. Chicago Ave., Heartland Housing Alliance and Oak Park Regional Housing’s plan includes a multistory rental building and public plaza with a renovation of the former Laramie State Bank into a blues museum, bank branch, café and business incubator.
• In Englewood on the 800 block of West 63rd Parkway, Ignite Technology, Innovation and DL3 Realty’s plans include a container market for a rotating group of merchants, a coffee shop and coworking space. A landmarked former firehouse would be a centerpiece of what’s imagined as a town square. DL3 was the firm that developed the adjacent Whole Foods-anchored Englewood Square.
The properties are city-owned or in private hands. The proposals were developed in consultation with the owners.