Spurring development without displacement, building density, and encouraging more people to use transit to get around are just some of the goals of a program that Wednesday awarded micro-grants to 11 projects around Chicago.
The funding of up to $20,000, and technical assistance getting projects off the ground, is part of the city’s Equitable Transit-Oriented Development pilot program.
Transit-oriented development “highlights access to diverse transit options – that includes more active transit like biking and walking, it includes access to public transit like trains and buses – and seeks to create hubs around our transit assets that are safe, walkable, and easy to access,” said Marly Schott, program manager of Elevated Chicago, a group that helped develop the new ETOD policy for Chicago and choose the winning projects.
While a transit focus has been on city planners’ and developers’ minds for years, Schott says the vast majority of projects created under a previous city policy were on the North and Northwest Sides and in some cases led to displacement, in particular of Latino residents.
“ETOD is really community-centered, community-driven development that creates these hubs of opportunity around our transit assets, particularly in communities of color,” Schott said.
One of the grant-winning projects is the Coalition Food Hall, being developed near the California Green Line station in East Garfield Park. The food hall being developed is set to feature local businesses and entrepreneurs and be an opportunity for area residents to build wealth.
“We’d like to create a community investment vehicle. Oftentimes in our communities, individuals don’t have an opportunity to participate in commercial development,” said co-developer Anton Hilton. “Not only do we want to create a place for community to gather and have a good time and eat ... we also want to provide an opportunity for community residents to own a piece ... and benefit from the growth.”
Another winning project is Gateway 79, being developed on five vacant acres near the 79th Street Red Line station in Chatham. It’s a mixed-use project, set to feature retail space as well as affordable housing for seniors and families.
“The problem with affordable housing in Chatham is similar to the problem with affordable housing in the nation,” said Rev. Joseph Gordon, who’s helping lead the project. Gordon says the research shows lack of affordable housing leads to “greater stress relating to food security, health care, retirement, and overall social stability. More often than not, particularly in urban areas like the city of Chicago, those persons who are most affected are persons of color. Since this is our backyard, we believe we have a mandate, a calling ... to help meet the housing need.”
While this grant funding is considered a pilot program, Schott says she’s excited that the proposed city budget for 2022 contains $10 million in funding for ETOD.
“What was previously an unfunded mandate has now, potentially, become a part of the city budget. We are working very diligently to get that approved.”
Here’s the full list of ETOD projects awarded grants this week:
- Briget’s Bodega, 125 W. 95th St., Roseland
- Coalition Food Hall, 2800 W. Madison St., East Garfield Park
- Homan-Harrison Mixed-Use Development Project, 600 S. Homan Ave., East Garfield Park
- Equity Arts Project, 1500 N. Milwaukee Ave., West Town
- Food Matters, 435 E. 43rd St., Grand Boulevard
- Gateway 79, State and 79th streets, Chatham
- Overton Center of Excellence, 221 E. 49th St., Washington Park
- Albany Park Plaza, 3300 W. Lawrence Ave., Albany Park
- Cross the Street: Art on Clark, Rogers Park
- Emmett Street Apartments Public Art and Placemaking, 2614 N. Emmett St., Logan Square
- 35th/Archer Orange Line ETOD Vision Project, 3528 S. Leavitt St., McKinley Park