Chicago/ Real Estate & Development
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Published on June 14, 2024
Chicago Mayor Johnson Prioritizes Community Projects in West Englewood, Austin with Economic Development Bonds

Mayor Brandon Johnson has earmarked the City's new batch of Housing and Economic Development (HED) bond proceeds for community-centric projects, starting with a green initiative in West Englewood and a health center in Austin, as per a recent announcement. Each project is set to benefit up to the tune of $5 million to support their respective construction costs. In a statement obtained by the City of Chicago's press release, Mayor Johnson underscored the significance of the funding, stating, "The Housing and Economic Development bond is already resonating where it is needed most - in Black and Brown neighborhoods."

The Wood Street Farm Expansion, led by Growing Home Inc., is channeling the funds into a USDA-certified produce facility alongside retail and educational enhancements that altogether tally up a $20 million project designed to create jobs and boost training programs, doubling its workforce development program's capacity to a solid 160 individuals; in Austin, the upcoming Community Health Hub, a collective brainchild of Stone Community Development Corp. and Lurie Children’s Hospital, will allocate its share for a facility rendering crucial physical and behavioral health care services besides doubling up as a community-friendly space.

With a clear focus on economic equity, the HED bond, courtesy of an April City Council nod, commits a whopping $250 million annually over five years concentrating on affordable housing and economic spark-plugs, predominantly in areas historically bypassed by public incentivization, particularly tax increment financing (TIF) protocols. Departmental heads are optimistic, with Ciere Boatright, Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development, referencing this initiative as key to fostering community resilience and expansion through health and wellness infrastructures.

Applications flowed in during a February window, leading to eight more projects joining the aforementioned as finalists for the sought-after Community Development Grants; businesses in the mix range from an iconic theater in need of revival and a burgeoning food hub to innovative retail spaces and a Caribbean restaurant setting roots beyond its food truck beginnings, each stake their claim to grants varying from just shy of what half a million to the full five-million-dollar jackpot.

Altogether, these ten projects constitute a combined construction value north of $60 million, having undergone a rigorous vetting process from over 149 pitches which were measured for their tactical placement, readiness to roll out, implied community uplift, and more. As the project phases progress, the cash flow will adapt, being allocated incrementally ensuring that each phase of development is rightfully fuelled.

Chicago-Real Estate & Development