The city is evaluating responses from three teams of developers and community partners seeking to redevelop a vacant lot in the Back of the Yards/New City neighborhood. The project is part of the city's INVEST South/West program to revitalize commercial corridors in historically underserved neighborhoods on the city's South and West sides.

City planners issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in November for the roughly 1,500-square-foot, city-owned site at the intersection of 47th and Justine streets. The responses were received in March and officials hope to identify a successful proposal by late summer.

The new development should incorporate amenities such as multi-family housing, retail for local businesses, and community spaces that offer "workforce development training, youth education, and after school programs" according to the city's website.

Thursday evening, officials from the Chicago Department of Planning and Development joined Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) and Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) to co-host a virtual town hall to discuss the three proposals. A recording of the meeting is available on YouTube.

"Development in our communities usually happens to us and not with us, so I'm excited that myself and Ald. Lopez have worked with the Department of Planning to do development differently in our community," said Ald. Taylor at Thursday's meeting."Just know that we are listening and this is a work in progress."

Ald. Raymond Lopez added, "I am thankful for the three entities that put forth RFPs. The goal was to focus on housing, to focus on retail, and to focus on the community, and I am very excited by what has been proposed."

Here's a brief overview of the three responses:

1515 W. 47th Street LLC

Led by Park Row Development, this project would bring 50 affordable studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments to 47th and Justine. The exterior of the six-story proposal features a welcoming two-story entrance on the corner, rooftop solar panels, a mural, and public open space including a community garden.

Inside, there will be an underground parking garage, affordable-rent commercial space for local businesses, and a hydroponics farm for growing micro and leafy greens. The team will partner with Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation to provide community programming to put neighbors on the path to homeownership by offering classes on home repair and financial literacy as well as job placement assistance. 

The project's estimated cost is $19.8 million.

A rendering of the 1515 W. 47th Street LLC proposal.Wallin/Gomez Architects

Back of the Yards Works

This estimated $15 million proposal forgoes housing in favor of a commercial hub that will provide job opportunities and training for the surrounding community. The development team is lead by Back of the Yards Coffee Co. in partnership with Condor Development.

Featuring a grand staircase lined with native plants, the planned building will seek Living Building Challenge certification through sustainable elements like rooftop farms, which will produce grain for beer and baked goods.

The building will be occupied by "homegrown" businesses and organizations including Back of the Yards Coffee, Sugarberry Bakery, La Selva T-Shirt Shop, the Marimba Institute, and Somo Monos Brewery.

A rendering of Back of the Yards WorksUrbanWorks, AP Monarch, OMNI Workshop

United Yards

The $51.5 million United Yards proposal comes from New City Redevelopment Limited Partnership, a joint venture between Blackwood Group and affordable housing developer Celadon Partners.

The plan is larger in scope than the others and goes beyond the 47th and Justine site, which would be redeveloped into 50 units of affordable housing and a community center. The Rainbow Building at 47th and Ashland would be restored to its former glory and transformed into 22 to 30 affordable senior living units and a new coffee shop for Stockyards Coffee.

The developers would also renovate the New City Supportive Living facility in the former Goldblatt's building and construct a pair of new affordable-rate three-flats, a 70-space underground parking garage, and a community park at 47th and Marshfield in collaboration with Star Farm Chicago.

A rendering of the United Yards proposal.Design Bridge