Rendering of the Michaels/KMW/TruDelta proposal for Lake/Kedzie site. | Michaels/KMW/TruDelta

The City of Chicago has selected a development team with some experience in city-led projects to redevelop vacant land at the southwest corner of the Lake Street/Kedzie Avenue intersection, at 3201-09 W. Lake St. and 201 N. Kedzie Ave.

The Invest South/West initiative, one of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s signature initiatives, aims to bring development to historically disinvested neighborhoods by inviting developers to submit redevelopment proposals for vacant, usually city-owned land. As part of the second round of proposals, the city is looking to redevelop the three sites around the Kedzie/Lake Green Line el station. The development proposals ended up focusing on the southwest corner.

  The winning team was announced on March 27 and has members that are no strangers to Invest South/West. KMW Communities is part of the team chosen to build a mixed-use development in West Humboldt Park, at 3601-17 W. Chicago Ave.

The team’s proposal, known as Hub 32, calls for a seven-story, 78,000 sq. ft. building with 63 apartments and 5,600 sq. ft. of retail space. It will have 14 one-bedroom, 34-two-bedroom and 15 three-bedroom apartments that, in keeping with the project requirements, would be affordable to households earning no more than 60% of the Area Median Income for the entire Chicago area. While the original proposal didn’t specify any commercial uses, the city press release indicates that it will include Jerky Jerk, a Caribbean restaurant currently based in the Tri-Taylor neighborhood, at 2253 W. Taylor St., and Vietfive Coffee, a West Loop coffee shop at 1116 W. Madison St., which, as the name suggests, specializes in the Vietnamese-style coffee.

TruDelta managing partner James Webb told Austin Weekly News that he wasn’t sure whether those two businesses were relocating or simply planning to open up second locations. He also said the development team is currently talking with the Hatchery food business incubator, which is located across the street from Site 2, at 135 N. Kedzie Ave., about potentially setting aside some retail space for Hatchery tenants looking to grow.

Hub 32 includes a rooftop public area, and its doors would be steps away from one of the staircases leading up to the el station’s Loop-bound platform.

Last winter, the city narrowed the proposals to three development teams. On March 27, Lightfoot’s office announced that the city selected a team made up of Humboldt Park-based KMW Communities, the Camden, New Jersey-based Michaels Organization, East Garfield Park-based TruDelta, Humboldt Park-based Studio Dwell, and Los Angeles-based Brooks + Scarpa. The city still needs to transfer the land to the Hub 32 team, which would require Chicago City Council approval. Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) currently expects the team to begin construction in early 2024.

The proposals were judged based on their “community wealth-building potential, economic feasibility, and professional and technical competence.”

One of the other finalists was a team made up Chicago-based Evergreen Real Estate Group, the Black-owned, Chicago-based Imagine Group, Los Angeles-based Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects and Chicago-based HED design firm. Their proposal called for a seven-story, 72,160 sq. ft. building that would include two for-sale townhomes, 60 apartments (including 4 three-bedroom apartments) and 1,700 square foot worth of flexible retail spaces. Each floor would have a laundry and an open-air garden space, and would include a public plaza facing the el station entrance.

A DPD statement that “DPD will continue to work with the developer of the runner-up proposal — Evergreen/Imagine — for potential implementation on nearby vacant land.”

The third development team, which included Citizens for a Better Community, an Austin-based affordable housing developer. Michael Bailey, the company’s head, told Austin Weekly News that, while he was disappointed, he bears no ill will toward the Hub 32 team.

“I understand that Michaels is a huge organization, they have a track record, long as a train, I get it,” he said. “But if we never get a shot to build a bigger project, we’d never get a chance [to prove ourselves]. I’m happy for the other guys, I’m not going to put them down. I would love to prove myself, and eventually, we’ll get a chance.”

Webb that he believed the fact that Hub 32 proposals had more three-bedroom units than the others worked in their favor. He said he noticed that many newer developments don’t have units suitable for families, and he wanted to avoid that. Webb believed that the business tenants they brought on board helped them as well.

“We did a lot of work to offer up to the community what we thought was a good plan,” he said.

 In a statement to the media, DPD Commissioner Maurice Cox said that, while all three finalists had good proposals, Hub 23 won out, in large part, because of its design.

“Hub 32 really demonstrates how high-density investment near transit can leverage public realm improvements like wider sidewalks and plazas, while also reflecting more traditional housing typologies like the Chicago courtyard building, which will provide future residents with semi-private outdoor space that opens to the sky,” he said.

Igor Studenkov

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...