On Tuesday, the Mayor’s Office released a statement following the groundbreaking of the much anticipated Englewood Connect, a $13.9 million culinary food hub located at 6204 S Green Street in Englewood. Plans include restoring and repurposing the landmark Engine Co. 84 firehouse as a commercial kitchen and event space in the heart of the Englewood neighborhood to create a centralized gathering hub for community members. Englewood Connect is part of the broader INVEST South/West project which aims to revitalize 10 West and South side community areas. Mayor Lightfoot is leveraging nearly $2 billion in public and private investment commitments to fund these projects.
McLaurin Development and Farpoint Development are the developers behind the project which is located at 6204 S Green Street. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and TNS Studio were tapped to design the large complex. Plans aim to update the Tudor-style firehouse which was built in 1929 as a 9,000-square-foot culinary center and business incubator. It’s expected that the space will generate upwards of 45 jobs.
Mayor Lightfoot shared these thoughts in the statement, “I am thrilled to break ground on our city’s latest INVEST South/West project. Englewood Connect and the many other investments we are making in our communities will ensure that Englewood residents have abundant opportunities to live, work, and play in their neighborhood.”
As previously reported, Englewood Connect is part of the city’s ongoing redevelopment plan for vacant city land on the northwest corner of Halsted and 63rd Streets. According to the press release, during construction, the building site will feature fencing graced with artwork by South Side artist Isiah “ThoughtPoet” Veney. This comes by way of support from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events’ INVEST South/West programming.
The project will also create food-related community opportunities by partnering with the Washburne Culinary and Hospitality Institute at nearby Kennedy-King College, as well as multiple urban farms within Englewood’s nearby urban agriculture district.
The project will total $14 million of funding including $6 million in TIF funding, $7 million in debt, and $800,000 in owner equity. TIF funding will be paid out in three stages. The first payment is planned for $750,000 after the closing of the RDA. The second installment of $3.25 million will be issued upon the completion of Phase 1, and the final $2 million will be paid upon completion of the entire project.
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Looks like a novelty project that people will be bored with in a few years. Why does every new project have to be so big? Designing a human scale, mid rise, mixed use district with partially restricted car traffic would’ve been a much better idea.