On Augusts 24, 2020, three Requests for Proposals (RFPs) were issued by the Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD). Each is seeking the redevelopment of a key, underutilized property, one each in the neighborhoods of Auburn Gresham, Austin and Englewood.
These are the first RFPs to be issued through Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West initiative. The RFPs’ collective goal is to create pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use projects that address local development needs while fostering additional investment on adjacent blocks. The due date for each RFP is November 24, 2020.
“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 long-established community goals,” Mayor Lightfoot said.
The RFPs include:
- Austin: 5200-24 W. Chicago Ave.
The approximately 34,200 square-foot site on the northwest corner of Chicago and Laramie avenues includes five vacant lots and the vacant, 14,340-square-foot Laramie State Bank building, a designated Chicago Landmark. The RFP seeks the mixed-use rehabilitation of the former bank and new construction on the adjacent land. All the properties are privately owned and the RFP is being issued in consultation with their owners. The City’s acquisition authority for the properties could be utilized in the event a selected developer is unable to finalize a purchase agreement for its proposed project. The parcels are currently zoned B3-1.
- Auburn Gresham: 838-58 W. 79th St.
The nearly 23,000-square-foot-site consists of six parcels of vacant land owned by the City. The RFP seeks their redevelopment with a high-quality, mixed-use project that includes ground-floor commercial spaces and residential uses above. The site is located directly across the street from the planned Auburn Gresham Healthy Lifestyle Hub and within walking distance of the 79th/Halsted Street intersection and the planned 79th Street Metra commuter station. The parcels are currently zoned B1-2.
- Englewood: 6200 block South Green Street, 914 W. 63rd St.
The approximately 4.28-acre site consists of two packages: Site B1/B2 and Site C. The sites are being offered as the second phase of the adjacent Englewood Square I project, which is a Whole Foods-anchored shopping center on the northwest corner of Halsted and 63rd streets. The goal of the RFP is to establish a vibrant, walkable, mixed-use town center that includes residential and commercial uses. Site B1 consists of approximately 61,260 square feet of land that includes a former 9,000-square-foot firehouse, a designated Chicago Landmark. Site B2, which can be included as an optional expansion to Site B1, consists of 21,050 square feet land that is also accessible by a public alley. Site C consists of approximately 105,160 square feet of land, approximately one-third of which has environmental restrictions. The sites are currently zoned C1-3.
Developed through a months-long community-engagement process, each RFP includes renderings of potential design scenarios, as well as a pre-qualified list of design teams that are available to help selected developers recruit emerging and minority- and women-owned architecture firms.
“These RFPs represent the true promise of INVEST South/West,” DPD Commissioner Maurice Cox said. “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.”
The City of Chicago may consider development assistance for each proposal with incentives that could include Tax Increment Financing support, Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF) grants, purchase-price write-downs, and other resources, based on recent market analyses of each site. Pre-submission meetings scheduled for late September will provide opportunities for would-be respondents to ask questions about the sites and potential City assistance.
Winning responses are expected to be announced by DPD later this year. Selected developers will undergo a community-based review and approval process that may include the Chicago Plan Commission, the Community Development Commission and City Council.
Additional RFPs are expected to be issued for the seven other INVEST South/West community areas in the months ahead.
INVEST South/West is an unprecedented community improvement initiative under Mayor Lightfoot to marshal the resources of multiple City departments, community organizations and corporate partners within 10 neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides.
Photo courtesy of Chicago Department of Planning and Development.