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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

City Council Approves $1.5 Million Grant For Little Village’s Xquina Cafe, Incubator

The Little Village Chamber of Commerce and Little Village Community Foundation aim to start work on the first phase of the project later this year.

A rendering of the proposed Xquina Cafe, now planned for 3523-3525 W. 26th St.
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LITTLE VILLAGE — A combined business incubator, co-working space and cafe in Little Village is getting $1.5 million in city funds to advance the project.

City Council members approved a Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grant Wednesday to the Little Village Chamber of Commerce and the Little Village Community Foundation to rehab vacant two-and three-story buildings at 3523-3525 W. 26th St.

Under the plan, the $4.6 million project will turn the 12,000-square-foot property into a cafe, co-working space, business incubator and a shared commercial kitchen. 

The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund program allows developers to pay a fee to build bigger and taller structures Downtown. The money they pay into the fund then is used to support projects in underserved neighborhoods.

RELATED: Little Village’s Xquina Cafe And Incubator Will More Than Double In Size, Move Across The Street

The Little Village chamber announced plans for Xquina Cafe in 2018 but the plan stalled after negations at the original location fell through. Instead of losing the previously approved $250,000 city grant, the group opted to look at other sites.

The chamber and the Little Village Community Foundation purchased the new location last year, which more than doubles the size of the project, according to Blanca Soto, the chamber’s executive director.

As part of the revised project, the first floor will include a larger cafe area, the business incubator, conference room, multimedia space and a shared commercial kitchen run by Food Hero.

The second floor will include the co-working space, private offices, a multimedia room for podcasting and a conference room. The third floor will be a gallery for local artists and an event space, Soto said.

The project aims to provide resources to aspiring entrepreneurs and an open and inclusive environment with culturally relevant programming to Little Village residents, Soto said. 

Design Bridge is the architecture firm working on the project.

The project aims to bring more resources to “create more community wealth” through various programming and partnerships and help “revitalize portions of the 26th Street corridor,”  said Juan Saldana, principal at P3 Markets. 

RELATED: Vacant Little Village Storefront Will Become ‘Game Changer’ Business Incubator, Cafe

A combination of funding from the city, state, foundations and private capital will be used to launch Xquina. 

The Xquina project is being broken up into two phases. Later this year, the chamber wants to start the first phase, which includes restoring the exterior of the building first constructed in 1888, and completing the first floor interior.

Officials expect to have the first phase done by next spring or early summer.

“We are thrilled to have the ability to move forward and develop a new educational ecosystem for Black and Brown entrepreneurs in Little Village and surrounding communities,” Soto said in a statement.

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