City so­lic­its plans to im­prove com­mer­cial ar­eas in Auburn Gre­sham, Austin and En­gle­wood

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY DAVID ROEDER, BUSINESS & LA­BOR RE­PORTER droeder@sun­ | @Roed­erDavid

City plan­ners Mon­day so­licited de­vel­op­ment pro­pos­als for three neigh­bor­hoods pri­or­i­tized un­der Mayor Lori Light­foot’s In­vest South/West pro­gram, hop­ing for ideas that will draw more in­vest­ment to the sur­round­ing blocks.

The pro­pos­als cover com­mer­cial stretches in Auburn Gre­sham, Austin and En­gle­wood that of­fi­cials be­lieve are ripe for im­prove­ment. The prop­er­ties at is­sue are ei­ther city­owned or in pri­vate hands, with the pro­pos­als de­vel­oped in con­sul­ta­tion with the own­ers.

“Th­ese sites of­fer flag­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties to help re­vi­tal­ize their re­spec­tive neigh­bor­hoods with qual­ity-of-life ameni­ties, jobs and mixed-in­come hous­ing that lever­age lo­cal tran­sit and ad­vance longestab­lished com­mu­nity goals,” Light­foot said.

Re­sponses to the “re­quests for pro­pos­als” — or RFPs — are due Nov. 24. The three neigh­bor­hoods cho­sen are among 10 Light­foot is high­light­ing with In­vest South/ West. The pro­gram seeks to tap $250 mil­lion in city funds over the next three years and con­nect it to $500 mil­lion from others such as the tran­sit agen­cies or the Chicago Park District for tar­geted im­prove­ments in un­der­served ar­eas.

Of­fi­cials said RFPs for other neigh­bor­hoods in In­vest South/ West will be is­sued in com­ing months. But plan­ners are brav­ing a mar­ket leery of spec­u­la­tive in­vest­ments be­cause of the pan­demic and re­cent loot­ing.

The RFPs were to be posted later Mon­day at­vestsw.

For in­spi­ra­tion, the city in­cluded de­sign sketches from top ar­chi­tec­ture firms and the Col­lege of Ar­chi­tec­ture at the Illi­nois In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, al­though re­spon­dents can fol­low their own paths. The ex­act sites are:

† In Austin, 5200-24 W. Chicago Ave., that in­cludes five empty lots and the va­cant Laramie State Bank build­ing, a land­mark. City of­fi­cials want a mixed-used re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the for­mer bank build­ing.

† In En­gle­wood, the 6200 block of South Green Street and 914 W. 63rd St., 4.28 city-owned acres that bracket the Whole Foods-an­chored shop­ping cen­ter at the north­west cor­ner of 63rd and Hal­sted streets. City of­fi­cials have asked for a vi­brant, walk­a­ble, mixed-use “town cen­ter” to play off its his­tor­i­cal role as a neigh­bor­hood hub. The prop­erty in­cludes a for­mer fire­house that’s a land­mark.

† In Auburn Gre­sham, 838-58 W. 79th St., six parcels of va­cant city-owned land where of­fi­cials want ground-floor com­mer­cial space with res­i­dences up­stairs. The prop­erty is across the street from the planned Auburn Gre­sham Healthy Life­style Hub and near a planned Me­tra sta­tion.

Each RFP in­cludes a pre-qual­i­fied list of de­sign teams to help de­vel­op­ers part­ner with emerg­ing and mi­nor­ity- and women-owned ar­chi­tec­ture firms.

“From the pro­posal stage to the se­lec­tion process to the rib­bon cut­tings, the de­vel­op­ment process will re­flect in­clu­siv­ity, eq­uity and the need for high-qual­ity de­signs that foster ad­di­tional com­mu­nity im­prove­ments on be­half of ex­ist­ing res­i­dents and busi­nesses,” said Plan­ning Com­mis­sioner Mau­rice Cox.


A de­sign pro­posal for 838-58 W. 79th St. in Auburn Gre­sham by the ar­chi­tec­tural firm Skid­more, Owings & Mer­rill.


A pro­posal for part of the En­gle­wood prop­erty near 63rd and Hal­sted streets calls for a walk­a­ble “town cen­ter.” It was drafted by the Illi­nois In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and Solomon Cord­well Buenz.


A pro­posal by the firm Perkins & Will for prop­erty in Austin at 5200-24 W. Chicago Ave.

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