Mayor Lori Lightfoot kicked off the “repopulation phase” of her signature plan on Tuesday to rebuild 10 long-neglected trade corridors on the south and west sides of Chicago.
To stop what Planning and Development Commissioner Maurice Cox calls “the hemorrhage of black and brown families” leaving Chicago, the plan calls for three strategies to spur “alternative development” on 5,600 vacant lots owned to the city in the Invest South/West communities of Austin, Auburn Gresham, Bronzeville, Greater Englewood, Greater Roseland, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, New City, South Chicago and South Shore.
The first strategy is aptly titled “Go Home”. The goal is to promote the construction of single-family homes, townhouses and small multi-unit buildings in residential buildings right next to resurgent commercial corridors. It will launch with “a national Chicago architectural competition” aimed at establishing “modern design typologies” to be built by emerging development firms and made available to buyers of affordable homes.
The second strategy is called “Ready Build”. It will make available “custom concept plans” for the redevelopment of corner lots with shops on the ground floor and homes above. The cookie-cutter plans will include “conceptual architectural drawings, cost estimates and other pre-development work” to make it easier and lower the cost for “emerging minority-led development companies” to launch projects. projects that “anchor the corners of key regions in the South and West. side intersections.
The third and final strategy is called “Chicago Block Builders”. It’s an online portal designed to streamline the sale of thousands of city-owned vacant lots to private buyers, starting with 2,000 vacant lots that will be made available this year across the 10 Invest South neighborhoods. West.
Cox spoke about what he called “Invest South/West: The Second Act” after joining the mayor at a press conference marking the third anniversary of a program that has already generated “2.2 billion dollars of public, private and philanthropic commitments”.
“Hundreds of thousands of families … left the south and west shores because they couldn’t get to a convenience store. They had no safe parks. So it made sense for us to start with the trade corridor. But now it’s about going to the streets and blocks where people live and filling the gaps with new housing opportunities,” Cox said.
“We will fill the halls and then move through the blocks to promote construction on the thousands of vacant lots in this community to create the roofs that are so vital for these businesses to succeed and thrive.”
The name, “Come Home,” aims to reverse the exodus of black people, Cox said.
“We want everyone who loves the South and West to come home. Come home to the communities you love and we’ll bring you new housing options. The initiative will be to find the two apartments and three apartments that people have been able to build family wealth by living there and renting another,” Cox said.
“Not everyone can do…a $40 million development. But what about a convenience store with 6 or 12 units above? … We’re going to look at those vacant corners and start creating smaller, filler opportunities for developers who work in those communities but are looking for scale to greater prosperity.
For a city that “has championed urban renewal” by “destroying everything” or carrying out “megaprojects that take forever,” Investing South/West is a “very different way to operate,” he said.
“How to grow fairly? How to do it in an inclusive way without displacement? You do it in a very gradual way,” Cox said.
Several mayoral candidates have argued that Investing South/West is more of a show than a departure.
But that didn’t stop Lightfoot from using searing rhetoric to celebrate the anniversary with a double breakthrough — a $47 million mixed-use project at 5200 W. Chicago Ave. and a $26 million streetscape project.
“We can’t be a great global city if we don’t look at the root causes of violence and understand that there is a different recipe for solving these problems than just sending law enforcement to every corner. street,” she said.
“With $2.2 billion in investment commitments, we are driving tangible, positive, and lasting change on the South and West Sides forever. Never again may another mayor, another administration turn its back on the South and the West Side. We can’t have it. You can’t have it. And never let that happen again.
A surprise participant in the celebration was former Governor Pat Quinn, who will announce on Thursday whether he will join the crowded race for mayor.
Quinn warned the Sun-Times not to “read anything” into her appearance “other than to celebrate something good for the West Side, where I live.”
That doesn’t mean he’s planning on endorsing Lightfoot or preparing to give him a pass.