Nearly two years after Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled plans to reverse decades of disinvestment on the South and West Sides, city officials broke out the gold shovels and turned the first ceremonial dumpsters Wednesday.
The first of 10 developments planned as part of Lightfoot’s Invest South/West initiative to begin construction is a 58-unit apartment complex that will be built near Green streets at 79th and Auburn Gresham. All apartments will be set aside for low- and moderate-income Chicagoans, with rents ranging from $925 to $1,250 a month, officials said.
Maurice Cox, commissioner of the city’s Department of Planning and Development, told Chicago Tonight on Wednesday that the original proposal called for a five-story building that drew strong criticism from the community.
“The community felt it was out of context, too dense for one site, so we started over,” Cox said.
The revised proposal was “good for everybody,” Cox said.
838 W. 79th St. The building at 757 W. 79th St. will include an AYO Foods store, which sells West African food. The building will include the KLEO Community Center and the new home of the Park Supper Club, officials said.
The $43 million development is set to receive about $39 million in city funds, including rebates on the sale price of long-vacant land owned by the city, officials said.
The project is a transit-oriented development, which means it will only have 28 parking spaces.
Unveiled by Lightfoot in October 2020, Invest/South West – along with the rest of the mayor’s agenda – was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, which triggered record-high levels of economic collapse, violent crime and civil unrest.
This complicated the mayor’s ambitious efforts to address the root causes of crime, poverty and population loss in Chicago’s Black and Latino neighborhoods.
The program calls for the city to spend $750 million in public money by October to address fundamental problems that have plagued South and West Side communities for decades, including a lack of jobs and few inviting places to shop, gather and enjoy.
Invest in South/West Bets that private investment will be attracted by city investment in Auburn Gresham, North Lawndale, Austin, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Quad Communities, New City, Roseland, South Chicago and South Shore, making “catalytic developments” possible, officials said.
The program has attracted $2 billion in private investment, Lightfoot said Wednesday.
The program’s first order of business was to identify 12 commercial corridors in those communities that “could serve as focal points for pedestrian activity, shopping, transportation, public spaces, and other quality-of-life amenities for local residents,” according to officials.
Before the end of the year, Invest South/West projects plan to break ground in Englewood, Austin, Humboldt Park and North Lawndale, officials said.
The project’s groundbreaking turned into an instant campaign rally for Lightfoot, who is running for re-election against seven announced opponents. The hour-long event ended after Imagine Group principal Torrey Barrett, one of the project’s developers, chanted “four more years” after endorsing Lightfoot for re-election.
Lightfoot said she was “apologetic” about her commitment to bringing new resources to the South and West Sides after decades “without a partner in the mayor’s office.”
Her voice rising and falling with emotion, Lightfoot again defended her decision to focus on development on the south and west sides from anonymous critics who she said urged her to follow the path laid out by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel and focus on downtown.
“We knew we had to do the opposite,” Lightfoot said, adding that she was determined to make sure South and West Side residents lived in neighborhoods where shops, work and places to play were within walking distance. towards the north.
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