After breaking ground early last year, the first piece of the multi-phase Ogden Commons development is open for business in the 2600 block of West Ogden Avenue in the North Lawndale community.

Developed as a unique partnership between The Habitat Company, Sinai Health SystemCinespace Chicago Film Studios, and the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), the project aims to bring new jobs, housing, and investment to vacant property that was once home to the now-demolished Ogden Courts public housing development.

Solomon Cordwell Buenz

The redevelopment process started rolling when the CHA put out a Request For Proposals (RFP) for a five-acre parcel across from Mt. Sinai hospital. It became a much more comprehensive plan when Mt. Sinai and Cinespace contributed their own land to the project and joined The Habitat Company as development partners.

"The Ogden Commons was really a convergence of the rapid growth of Cinespace and a desire from Mt. Sinai—a 100-year-old neighborhood institution—to modernize and offer more services to people in the community," explained Jeff Head from The Habitat Company. "A big part of that was everyone getting to know each other and coming up with a plan that focused on economic development, jobs, and housing. The RFP came at a convenient time and hastened the action."

As an initial proof of concept, the team opted to build a 30,000-square-foot commercial building first and develop the housing in later phases. The newly completed first building includes recently opened Wintrust Bank and three minority-owned restaurants—a Steak n’ Shake franchise, Momentum Coffee, and Ja Grill—that will open later this summer. The new building will also house an outpatient facility for Mt. Sinai. 

Solomon Cordwell Buenz

The development team plans to break ground on 110 mixed-income residential units on vacant land to the immediate north later this year and build another 79 units in 2022. The entire Ogden Commons site is zoned for up to 350 units and the team plans to build at least 300. Forty percent of the residences will be designated as CHA units. Another fifty percent will be built as below-market-rate with affordable housing tax credits and the remaining 10 percent will be offered at market rate. 

A goal of the project has been to hire local contractors and create jobs for North Lawndale residents. The team also aims to offer a sizable portion of the units to Mt. Sinai employees who could receive rent offsets from the hospital, according to Head. The developers are in talks with other commercial users for the additional vacant sites fronting Ogden.

The $200 million Ogden Commons project isn't the only new development in the works for North Lawndale. On the opposite side of Douglass Park, the city of Chicago is currently evaluating six mixed-use proposals for a vacant lot at 3400 W. Ogden Avenue as part of its INVEST South/West program. Head said his team has been in communication with planners and will "try to cross-pollinate" when it comes to engaging the community and local hiring practices. 

"We see the Ogden Commons as a housing story, but it is also about a unique partnership that leveraged the strengths of different businesses to redevelop an area of the city that has long struggled," said Head. "It's about activating and energizing the neighborhood."