Site 1, which used to hose Garfield Park Farmers Market, as it looks today | Credit: Igor Studenkov/Staff Reporter

The Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is seeking developers who can transform three groups of city-owned lots northeast and southwest of the Kedzie/Lake Green Line ‘L’ station.

The project, which is part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Invest South/West initiative, groups the lots into three sites. Site 1 at the northeast corner of the intersection spans 3148-56 W. Lake St., the former location of the Garfield Park Community Garden. At the southwest corner, Site 2 includes 3201-09 W. Lake St. and 201 N. Kedzie Ave. Site 3 includes 112 N. Kedzie Ave. and 3201-15 W. Maypole Ave.

While the specifics vary, the tentative plans call for all three sites to have mixed-use developments, with retail on the lower floors and residential units on the upper floors. The architects and designers submitted their qualifications on Sept. 14.

The three project teams are expected to be formed by the early October, with the public meeting where the proposals would be presented tentatively set for early December. The city expects to select the winning team by the end of the year.  

The DPD is organizing the logistics of the project. On Aug. 12, it held a pre-bid meeting for potential firms and community stakeholders. The video of the meeting was archived on DPD’s YouTube channel.

In his introductory remarks, James Harris, DPD’s lead planner for the West Side project, said that his department wants to select design firms first, unlike similar Invest South/West projects that required designers to team up with other community stakeholders.

“We found that the traditional RFP process creates significant pre-development costs for developers and designers without the full confidence that they will be awarded the project,” he said.  “We also found [that] the traditional RFP process could potentially create barriers to entry for emerging design firms.”

Harris said that they chose the Lake/Kedzie site because of its proximity to several schools and the ‘L’ station, as well as the sheer number of city-owned and privately owned vacant lots in the area. The area developments would also be next to the Hatchery food business incubator, 135 N. Kedzie Ave.

Preliminary plans shared at the meeting on Aug. 12 call for Site 1 to have an eight-story building with between 56 to 61 residential units and around 10,000 square feet of commercial space.

Site 2 would have a six-story building with between 36 to 41 residential units and around 9,500 square feet of commercial space.

Site 3 would have a four-story building with eight to 15 residential units facing the Maypole Avenue section of the lot and around 5,500 square feet of retail facing Kedzie Avenue.

City officials said they hope the project makes East Garfield Park more vibrant, inclusive and more accessible for pedestrians.

According to the bid documents, the city will select three developer finalists and between five and 10 design finalists. The candidates will be chosen “based on their financial capacity, relevant experience and demonstrated ability to complete a development of similar scale and scope.”

The selected firms will then need to attend a virtual meeting, where they will get to know each other and their qualifications. They will have three weeks to form three separate teams. Although applicants don’t have to be Illinois-based, each team must include at least one local firm.

The teams will then have another six weeks to come up with the site concepts. To help with the upfront costs, each team will get $25,000 from the Chicago Community Trust. Each team will then present their proposal to the public in a virtual meeting.

The evaluation committee — which will be made up of DPD staff, city staff from other departments, members of the Chicago Committee on Design advisory committee and “public representatives” — will then recommend the winning proposal.

Maurice Cox, the Chicago Commissioner for Planning and Development, will make the final decision.

Harris said that the city would be applying for the federal Low Income Housing tax credits to help the winning development team, so they want to the final design ready by June 2023.


Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...