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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

With An Emphasis On Community, Developers Unveil Bids To Transform Vacant Back Of The Yards Lot

Proposals include affordable housing, community spaces and amenities such as coffeehouses, taprooms and rooftop decks.

The 3-story building would house Back of the Yards Coffee Shop, Sugarberry Bakery, La Selva T-shirt shop, Marimba Institute, and a workforce development space. The third floor will house Somos Monos brewing company with a beer garden rooftop.
Department of Planning and Development
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BACK OF THE YARDS — From mixed-use affordable apartments to a coffeehouse with a brewery and a job training space, developers pitched Back of the Yards neighbors on plans for a city-owned lot near the 47th Street and Ashland Avenue corridor.

Back of the Yards Coffee Co., New City Redevelopment Limited Partnership and Park Row Development are vying for a city bid to transform the vacant lot at 1515 W. 47th St. as part of the city’s Invest South/West Initiative.

Department of Planning official Claudia Herasme said the project’s point is to create opportunities for jobs, better housing, amenities and social services that will support the community. 

Officials from the Department of Planning and Development, Alds. Jeanette Taylor (20th) and Raymond Lopez (15th) and community members first met last fall to begin sketching ideas for the city-owned property.

Taylor, whose ward includes the lot, said she is excited to work with city leaders and neighbors “to do development different in our community.”

“Development in our communities usually happens to us and not with us,” Taylor said.

Lopez said the meeting was a culmination of months of work between community members and city officials.

Here is a breakdown of the projects:

Affordable Housing With A Rooftop Deck

Credit: Department of Planning and Development
Park Row Development, LLC and Churchill Stateside Group is looking to build a 50-unit affordable housing building aimed at households earning 60 percent of the area median income. The building will include a rooftop deck and lounge area, according to paperwork filed with the city.

Park Row Development and Churchill Stateside Group want to build a 50-unit affordable housing complex aimed at serving households earning 60 percent of the area’s median income. The units would be studios, one- and two-bedrooms.

The development would include a recreational lounge and outdoor rooftop deck, as well as underground parking and bicycle storage for tenants. 

One resident raised concerns about the proposed unit mix, saying three-bedrooms are needed to accommodate families of the area.

The developer would team up with Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation to host community programs on the first floor. Portions of the ground floor also would have space for a restaurant and a commercial-grade hydroponics farm. 

Matt Mosher, lead from Park Row Development, said the team was inspired by some of the research from The Great Cities Institute at University of Illinois at Chicago about revitalizing the 47th and Ashland corridor. He said their project aims to include affordable housing, youth programs and job creation.

The overall project is estimated to cost $19.8 million. If selected, they hope to break ground in February and complete construction by February 2023.

Coffee House, Bakery, Taproom And Office Space

Credit: Department of Planning and Development
The 3-story building would house Back of the Yards Coffee Shop, Sugarberry Bakery, La Selva T-shirt shop, Marimba Institute, and a workforce development space. The third floor will house Somos Monos brewing company with a beer garden rooftop.

Back of the Yards Coffee Co., MBE & Condor Development are teaming up to propose a three-story building that would feature a coffee house, workforce development spaces and offices, a taproom and a reception area. The project is called Back of the Yards Works.

The ground floor would include Back of the Yards Coffee Co., Sugarberry Bakery and La Selva T-shirt shop. The first floor would also include an outdoor seating and a plaza for the community. Community-based Marimba Institute, workforce development center and offices would be on the second floor.

The top floor would include Somos Monos brewing company, a taproom, beer garden rooftop and reception space.

The building would be built using the Living Building Challenge standard, a self-sufficient structure in terms of energy use. 

Back of the Yards Coffee co-owner Jesse Iñiguez said the development team and businesses selected were homegrown and would benefit community members by creating a circular economy to provide livable wages and job training. The developers wanted to create generational wealth in the area, he said.

Asked about not including housing in the proposal, Iñiguez said community members were more interested in homeownership. As a native of the neighborhood, he said he didn’t believe a saturation of affordable apartments would fulfill the local need for lower-cost housing.

The overall project is estimated to cost $15 million. 

Affordable Housing And A ‘Community Opportunity Hub’

Credit: Department of Planning and Development
Developers behind United Yards look to bring a six-story affordable apartment building with 50 units, ground-floor community space for youth programming and economic development at the 47th and Justine site.

The proposal from New City Redevelopment Limited Partnership, Celadon Partners and Blackwood Group would overhaul a three-block stretch of 47th Street between Justine Street and Marshfield Avenue. It would be called United Yards.

United Yards would have a six-story, 50-unit affordable housing building and a “community opportunity hub” at the city-owned lot, said Jose Duerte, founder of Blackwood Group.

The building also would include a large outdoor terrace connected to a community room. The ground floor would have a community space dedicated to youth programming, job training workshops and flexible spaces for entrepreneurs.

The development team also proposes to restore the Rainbow Building at 4701 S. Ashland Ave. that would be home to 30 units for senior housing and include Stockyard Coffee House on the ground floor. Moving west, they plan to build a demonstration farm with the help of Star Farms at 47th Street and Marshfield Avenue and six affordable units west of the park, Duerte said.

They would also construct a senior medical clinic and dialysis facility on the ground floor of the former Goldblatt’s building at the corner of 4701 S. Marshfield Ave.

In pitching the $51.5 million plan, Duerte said the project would “solidify intergenerational resiliency and stability.”

During the meeting, residents said it was important to include and support community members and local businesses to avoid gentrification.

Department of Planning Commissioner Maurice Cox said he was delighted with the number of people at the meeting. Cox said it was the goal of Invest South/West to provide community members with three proposals in the neighborhood. 

Even so, Cox said there was still work to be done on the proposals. 

“This is the beginning. You will continue to shape and form the development until the point where it really feels like one-and-the same with Back of the Yards,” Cox said.

City officials plan to host additional community meetings before making a final decision.

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