The project that would establish an industrial and retail campus on a 21-acre lot near the Roosevelt Road/Kostner Avenue intersection is getting closer to reality.
The zoning change the developers requested cleared the Chicago City Council Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards on Nov. 29. Ald. Michael Scott (24th) said that he expects the change to go before the full City Council sometime this month and for the development agreement to be voted on in January. Once that happens, there will be another round of public hearings to get further community input on what they would like to see on the site.
The project, currently known as Clarius Park–Chicago Westside [sic] is a brainchild of Clarius Partners LLC, a Chicago-based commercial and industrial developer. It would be built on a land that stretches between Roosevelt Road, Kostner Avenue, 5th Avenue and Kildare Avenue The north half of the lot will have three industrial buildings, and the south half will have three retail buildings.
As previously reported by Austin Weekly News, the company co-owner, Kevin Matzke, stated that a lot this size gives them a rare opportunity to develop something close to both the Eisenhower Expressway and the Loop that has enough room to meet the modern industrial campus needs. He also believes that residents of the West Side who live near the development will provide a customer base for retailers and a workforce for the companies involved.
Clarius Partners bought the land from the city. Under the terms of the sale, it set aside $1 million that it can offer as incentives to the companies that reach at least 50 percent local hires. Scott previously indicated that he was planning to use funds from the Roosevelt/Cicero TIF district, which includes the industrial campus site, to provide job-training.
Clarius Partners presented their plan at the 24th Ward community meeting in August and at a special community meeting in September. But since then, there hadn’t been many updates until now.
During the Nov. 29 meeting, William Banks, the attorney for the company, laid out a plan that was largely identical to what was presented before. Scott told the committee that the project has his blessing
“I am here to voice my unwavering support for this project,” the alderman said. “We’re in desperate need for those jobs. I think it’s something that’s a catalyst, a jump-start without the help of the federal government, making sure that the least of [residents] have the ability to move up.”
The preliminary plans call for a grocery store to be included int the retail portion of Clarius Park. Scott emphasized that it is major priority for him.
“We’re working to hopefully bring a grocer that’s disparately needed, because North Lawndale is a food desert,” he said.
Indeed, while there are some grocery stores just outside its borders, the community itself has no grocery store at all. As previously reported by Austin Weekly, Eats Groceries store considered moving in, but because the TIF district in the area they were looking at expired, they decided to pursue the former Moo & Oink space near the intersection of Madison Street and Cicero Avenue.
Later that day, Scott held a regular community meeting at the Greater Open Door Baptist Church. Several residents asked him about the status of the project and the alderman offered more details.
Scott said that he expects Clarius Park to bring in 380 permanent jobs, and reiterated that there is an incentive for prospective tenants to hire from the nearby zip codes. When asked what would happen if the tenants ignore the incentives, he replied that there was always a chance that this might happen, but that he would try to push them in that direction.
“There will be things along the way they would need my office for so if they don’t …,” Scott said.
The alderman added that hiring local will be part of the development agreement. He also felt that chances are pretty good that the tenants would need to hire new people, because he didn’t believe that all of the positions will be “retention jobs,” or jobs carried over from their previous location.
In the end, Scott argued that, whatever happens, the community will gain something.
“If we pick up some jobs, it’s better than no jobs,” he said.
Scott said that he expects the project to be approved in January.
“Once the development agreement is passed, [Clarius] will do another round of community meetings [about] what kind of retail we want,” Scott said.