The City of Chicago and Mayor Lori Lightfoot are celebrating two years of the Invest South/West initiative across the city. The program launched in 2019 with $750 million in public funding for projects across 12 commercial corridors in 10 south- and west-side communities aimed at creating jobs, improving safety, and providing housing options. With many winners announced in the last two years, the projects have also spurred plenty of private developments in areas being reinvigorated by the program.
After two years, the city has managed to contribute $1.4 billion to city projects along with Invest South/West with half coming from private financial contributions from the likes of BMO Harris, JP Morgan Chase, and even Starbucks. The first 10 RFP’s gathering over $318 million in planned mixed-use proposals in areas like Humboldt Park, South Shore, and North Lawndale with 180 community roundtables, 18 public agencies collaborating, six historical buildings being preserved, and the creation of four business centers on priority corridors.
Combined, the projects will create over 300 permanent jobs and construct over 350 residential units, many of them focusing on affordable housing including spaces for business incubators, health services, public libraries, and more. Over all the projects collected over 200 responses from different firms with more than 90 community partners. The first 10 projects include:
- The Ave – Humboldt Park: A $25.3 million development by KMW Communities split into three phases with two buildings holding 82 residential units designed by Gensler.
- Team Pioneros – Humboldt Park: A $53.9 million development by Park Row Development designed by JGMA that will restore the historic Pioneer Bank Building with a colorful 75 residential unit addition.
- Austin United Alliance – Austin: A $37.5 million proposal preserving the historic Laramie State Bank building and adding a 72-unit structure designed by Valerio Dewalt Train and Latent Design.
- Lawndale ReDefined – North Lawndale: A $31.4 million project by GRE Ventures delivering 60 residential units with retail designed by Wight & Company with Site Design Group.
- United Yards – New City: A $60 million project by Celadon Partners that will rehab a historical building, add a new apartment building, and renovate others, with a total of 80 new residential units designed by DesignBridge.
- Englewood Connect – Englewood: A $10 million proposal by McLaurin Development that will build multiple commercial buildings and restore a historical firehouse, all designed by SOM and TNS Studio.
- Evergreen Imagine – Auburn Gresham: A $19.4 million development by Evergreen Real Estate Group bringing 56 residential units with ground-floor retail designed by Ross Barney Architects and Nia Architects.
- Galleria 89 – South Chicago: A $23.6 million complex by 548 Development delivering 45 residential units and 12,000 square feet of retail designed by Rivetna Architects.
- Thrive Exchange – South Shore: A $47.3 million project by DL3 Realty Advisors bringing 86 residential units and 24 condos aimed at first time owners along with the rehab of multiple structures designed by KOO Architects and Site Design Group.
- The Legacy District – Bronzeville: A $19.4 million development by KMW Communities delivering 25 residential units with a culinary and entrepreneur flex space designed by Landon Bone Baker Architects.
The popularity of Invest South/West, which places an emphasis on minority- and women-owned businesses, has spurred plenty of private development like a new Discover customer support center in Chatham with 1,000 employees, new office spaces like The Terminal in Humboldt Park, as well as improvements to public parks, civic buildings, and community centers.
As design progresses on all of the projects, groundbreaking is expected this year for many as they move through the permitting process. However the effort isn’t over yet, the initiative is expected to continue with recent RFP winners like the 4300 W Roosevelt Road warehouse center and a future RFP in the Roseland/Pullman area expected soon, Invest South/West will leave a legacy of impact in many of the most overlooked communities in the city.