An empty patch of land along North Lawndale’s commercial backbone may soon house a hotel, a cosmetology school, a business incubator or a food hall for local entrepreneurs.
Six teams are bidding to develop 3400 W. Ogden Ave. as part of the city’s INVEST South/West Program, which aims to drive major residential and retail projects in South and West Side neighborhoods. In North Lawndale, the city’s focus is Ogden Avenue between Kedzie and Pulaski.
The city sought plans that would create affordable housing to prevent displacement, support the growth of local businesses and retail opportunities, and improve public spaces along the historic Ogden Avenue corridor, planning department officials said.
City officials said they took their cue from the 2018 North Lawndale Quality of Life Plan, a community-driven blueprint for improving key issues in the neighborhood, including the local economy, public health, greening and safety. The planning department also held monthly roundtables and a visioning workshop to determine what developers should prioritize, city planner Brian Hacker said.
Residents want the winning project to include a public plaza to support a strong pedestrian presence on Ogden Avenue, sit-down restaurants, retail space, a grocery store and affordable housing, according to community feedback collected by the city. Job creation and local business development is also a priority, Hacker said.
The planning department will select the winning proposal mid-summer based on input from residents who attended community presentations Wednesday and Thursday, and from responses to a survey sent to residents next week. Planning officials did not specify how much resident feedback would impact the final decision.
Hive cosmetology campus and affordable housing
Elevate Cosmetology and Fragrance School and Miller & Ferguson aim to create a $52.8 million Elevate X Hive cosmetology campus.
Students at the school would be able to earn a 1,500-hour cosmetology certificate. The school would also offer entrepreneurship classes and workshops on topics such as perfume making and product design so residents can “curate their own beauty and wellness brands,” Hive founder Bambi Montgomery said.
“You will enroll in the cosmetology and fragrance school as a beginner. But you will ensure with the wisdom and confidence to own,” Montgomery said.
The five story mixed-use building would also include the Crown and Glory museum of Black hair, a community plaza and five retail spaces for local businesses on the ground floor. The cosmetology school would also operate a salon and spa that would offer discounts to residents, Montgomery said.
The project would include 66 units of affordable housing, 150 temporary jobs in construction and 75 to 100 permanent jobs in retail and facility maintenance. Developers partnered with North Lawndale Employment Network to ensure Lawndale residents are the first to benefit from the jobs created.
Food hall, affordable housing celebrating Lawndale’s Black and Latino heritage
Lawndale Christian Development Corporation and NHP Foundation aim to create The Tapestry, a $31.4 million project with a food hall to unite North and South Lawndale with art and economic opportunities.
The food hall would create opportunities for local food vendors, restaurants and entrepreneurs of color. The project would also include retail storefronts and a co-working space to offer support and technical assistance to local businesses.
“We have a shared history of overcoming adversity. We have a shared history of having systemic disinvestment in our neighborhoods,” said Richard Townsell, executive director of the Lawndale Christian Development Corporation.
The development would create 67 units of affordable housing, 50 permanent jobs and 170 temporary construction jobs.
Outside The Tapestry, a landscaped plaza incorporating public art and murals that reflect the Black and Latinx heritage of North Lawndale and Little Village.
“This new active outdoor street plaza will provide accessible public space for neighborhood gatherings, programmed activities for both young and seniors, a sense of place and expression of both Latinx and African American cultures,” said Veronica Gonzalez of NHP Foundation.
Business incubator, marketplace and affordable housing
Michaels Development and New Covenant Community Development Corporation would create PIVOT North Lawndale, a $27.5 million project anchored by a business incubator.
The five-story hub would be designed to connect neighborhood groups, entrepreneurs and cultural organizations. The development will also include a marketplace with five micro-retail spaces owned and operated by New Covenant for local entrepreneurs at the incubator.
“It lets those businesses communicate with each other. We can create a cohort of businesses working together. Our plan includes having them occupy those different spaces until they reach a certain level, then we launch them into the deep,” said Rodney Brown, executive director of New Covenant.
The project will also include a pavilion area to house restaurants and retailers. Developers partnered with local businesses Principle Barbers and Del Kar Pharmacy as community consultants.
The development will include 46 units of affordable housing and eight market-rate units. The plan is expected to create around 32 permanent jobs and up to 300 temporary construction jobs.
Mixed-use center with public plaza, housing and retail
Gorman & Company and BEEHYYVE aim to create OG Lawndale, a $38.3 million plan with 50 units of affordable housing, a public square and retail.
The OG Lawndale plan emphasizes the innovative design of the building, which features several green rooftops and terraces, over the specific offerings of the mixed-use development. The offerings of the building will be determined by the needs of the community, developers said.
“The idea [is] activating the street with human beings and retail and just sheer activiy, and let the community invent some programs. Sometimes it’s up to us as architects to provide that canvas and let the community create,’ said Juan Moreno, president of JGMA, a design partner for the project.
The OG Lawndale project could include ground-level retail storefronts, a café, and restaurants with outdoor seating.
“There is pop-up retail in that front plaza, so we are able to do things like food truck festivals or art festivals within the confines of the building but also outside. We see this as an opportunity to continue to grow the vision so it’s not ours, but the community’s,” said Ron Clewer, Illinois market president of Gorman.
Art and tech center with restaurant, bistro and housing
A team led by GRE Ventures, Imagine Development and 548 Development proposed a $31.4 million project called Lawndale Redefined.
The development would be anchored by an arts and tech community center called the Cube. The center would offer training for tech fields like blockchain, crypto, 5G and artificial intelligence. The Cube would also function as an art gallery that could host events and gatherings.
The project would also include a small grocery store and a bistro with full-service dining on the rooftop terrace. The green roof would have solar panels installed, and would also have opportunities for community gardening.
Community partners for Lawndale Redefined include Black Men United, NAACP-Westside Branch, Habilitative Systems, Small Business Development Corp.
A public art plaza outside the building would have a splash pad for children and a meandering walking path with installations designed to educate visitors about Lawndale’s rich history.
Lawndale Redefined will include 48 affordable housing units and 12 market-rate units, including three townhomes that will provide residents with opportunities for homeownership.
Proxima Management hotel
A $48 million proposal by Proxima Management would create a hotel with 200 rooms in North Lawndale.
The Proxima Management Hotel would also include two spaces for restaurants or retailers. The green rooftop of the hotel would have a terrace, a fitness center and a lounge, developers said.
The hotel plan would close the service drive along Ogden Avenue and repurpose it as a landscaped community area for gatherings, performances and art.
Visitors staying at the hotel would boost the local economy by patronizing neighborhood businesses and restaurants, developers said. The hotel itself is expected to contribute 10 million to the economy, developers said, and another $20 million would be generated indirectly through tourism.
The hotel would create at least 30 permanent jobs, and the developers would make sure at least 10 Lawndale residents were hired for temporary construction jobs. Proxima partnered with North Lawndale Employment Network to ensure residents are prioritized for hiring.
“North Lawndale is a place to come visit. It is going to become a place where families will want to come visit the botanic gardens, or visit the Martin Luther King museum. There’s so much history in this community,” said Brenda Palms Barber, president of North Lawndale Employment Network.
Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.