WEST HUMBOLDT PARK — A project to revive the old Pioneer Trust & Savings Bank in West Humboldt Park is a step closer to reality after receiving a boost in funding this week.
City Council on Wednesday signed off on $13 million in tax-increment finance dollars for the Invest South/West project, setting the stage for construction.
Park Row Development plans to transform the 1920s, classical revival-style bank and neighboring lots into offices, community space, a cafe and affordable housing, according to a city news release.
BTEC, a center that specializes in workforce management and career training, and Arquitectos, an organization that provides networking and resource for Latino architects, will be ground-floor tenants of the bank building at 4000 W. North Ave., which has sat vacant for 15 years. Architecture firm JGMA, a project partner, will move into the upper floors.
A community cafe and restaurant is planned for the annex building at 4008 W. North Ave., city officials said.
The redevelopment project will be completed in two phases. For the second phase, an affordable housing building will be built on the 1-acre parking lot north of the former bank, city officials said.
It’s unclear when construction will begin. Park Row co-founder Matt Mosher didn’t return messages seeking comment.
Park Row Development, a firm founded in 2020 by Mosher and Luis Puig, won a city bid to redevelop the Pioneer bank site over Hispanic Housing Development Corp., a company that has years of experience building affordable housing in the Humboldt Park area.
Hispanic Housing filed a lawsuit against Park Row and the city in March, alleging the city “acted arbitrarily, capriciously, and unfairly” in accepting Park Row’s “lowball offer” in December.
The lawsuit argues Park Row, a company with “no experience in real estate development,” misrepresented its bid, which will cost taxpayers tens of millions more dollars.
Hispanic Housing pitched a Latino cultural hub with offices for PrimeCare Health and Rincon Family Services on the upper floors and a public library on the ground floor. The nonprofit developer also wanted to build an 11-story, 76-unit affordable housing complex on the site to the north of the building. The project was expected to cost $73.4 million.
The price tag of Park Row’s development was $53.9 million in 2021. The city said in an official release in March the first phase the project will cost $21.2 million.
A Cook County judge tossed Hispanic Housing’s lawsuit in April, ruling the developer lacked legal grounds to hold up the city vote.
Hispanic Housing officials declined to comment on the lawsuit, but the company’s attorney, Paul Balik, told the Sun-Times they were disappointed in the judge’s ruling.
Pioneer Bank was built in 1925 during the “golden age” of banking, when banks were designing grand buildings to “signal to the banking customer the notion that their money would be safe and the bank was here to stay,” city officials wrote in the building’s landmark designation report in 2012.
Puerto Rico-based bank Banco Popular took over the landmarked bank building in the mid-’90s as Humboldt Park’s Puerto Rican population grew. Banco Popular called the building home until 2008, when it moved across the street.
In recent years, the bank has languished. Its former owner struggled to redevelop the building and the surrounding lots after Banco Popular’s departure, a city official previously said.
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