The Aldi in West Garfield Park on Oct. 11. | Igor Studenkov

The Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is looking to turn the former West Garfield Park Aldi site at 3835 W. Madison St., and the lots around it into a mixed-use development with affordable housing, a new grocery store and some retail.

Aldi shut down its West Garfield Park location in early October 2021, and the city bought the land this March. In addition to the store site, the proposal includes the Madison Discount Muffler shop at 3801 W Madison St., and the commercial buildings at 3843-59 Madison St. The city officially started soliciting proposals on Dec. 5.

DPD is following the same process it did with the redevelopment of the vacant lots around the Kedzie/Lake Green Line ‘L’ station, inviting architects and development firms to submit their qualifications. The firms will then be sorted into development teams and each development team will present its proposal before the community. DPD currently expects to select a winning team by late May 2023, and it will hold community meetings to further refine the winning team’s proposal.

The project is part of the broader Invest South/West initiative, which encourages development in traditionally neglected communities. In the past, the city invited development teams made up of developers and local community organizations to submit proposals based on the broad vision outlined in the Request for Proposal documents.

With the two Garfield Park proposals, the city is asking developers and architecture firms to submit requests for qualifications first and have them form teams later. This was done in hopes of including more minority applicants that had trouble navigating the previous process.

The DPD document lays out three possible development scenarios. The proposals won’t have to strictly fit any one scenario and the plans are expected to further change based on the community input. All three call for a grocery store, retail and affordable housing, but the scale is different.

Scenario 1 calls for the development team to open the grocery store inside of the existing Aldi building and build mixed-use buildings on the remaining parcels. The building to the west would have 25 residential units, while the building to the east would have 75. Both buildings would have a total of 10,000 to 15,000 square feet of retail and “residential amenities,” such as a gym. The former Aldi parking lot would become a public plaza.

Scenario 2 calls for a grocery store to take up the lower floor of the east residential building, with the logic that having a store at the intersection of Madison Street and Hamlin Avenue would draw more customers. Both buildings would be larger, with the west building having 75 units and the east building having 65 units. The west building would have housing on the ground level, both buildings would have retail facing Madison Street and the smaller public plaza would be sandwiched between the two buildings.

Scenario 3 calls for three buildings, with a 21,000-square-foot standalone grocery store with overhead parking decks on the west, a 55-unit building in the middle and the 75-unit building in the east. Both mixed-use buildings will include east-facing town homes on the ground level and retail facing the Hamlin/Madison intersection. There would be a park between a grocery store and the middle building, and a public plaza between the two mixed-use buildings.

The winning team would be encouraged to apply for federal low-income housing credits, which would require them to keep the housing affordable for at least 30 years, with affordability defined based on the Area Median Income for the Chicago region.

The proposals are due on Jan. 27, 2023. The teams will be formed by Feb. 24, 2023, with the proposals due in late April 2023. A jury made up of city officials, community members and stakeholders will pick the development team by late May 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...