WEST HUMBOLDT PARK — After years of sitting empty, a closed West Side bank could be home to a Latino heritage center after the City Council endorsed a land agreement for the bank and surrounding lots Wednesday.
The plan for the Pioneer Trust & Savings Bank, 4000 W. North Ave., which would also include affordable housing, is part of the city’s INVEST South/West program targeting a stretch of North Avenue that was once a main business corridor.
“It’s the most prominent structure on North Avenue,” said Mike Parella, a project manager for the planning department. “It’s redevelopment… would be vital for securing a vibrant future for the neighborhood and its existing residents.”
The city’s planning department is seeking a developer to lead the project, and buy the bank and vacant lots near North Avenue and Pulaski Road from the current owner, Pulaski Investments LLC.
If for whatever reason the developer and the current property owner cannot negotiate a sale, the City Council vote Wednesday authorizes city leaders to buy the property themselves, then transfer it to a developer, said Peter Strazzabosco, a spokesperson for the planning department.
Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) praised the development for bringing investment to the area and helping to “preserve our cultural identity in that area and repel any symbols of gentrification,” he said.
A building to the north of the bank would have all units dedicated to affordable housing, planning officials said. The selection process and the final design of the redevelopment project will incorporate community feedback, Parella said.
The five-story Pioneer Bank was built in 1925 in a neoclassical architectural style. The historic building has been a Chicago landmark since 2012, but it has sat vacant for 13 years. Pulaski Investments had previously been unsuccessful in redeveloping the site, Parella said.
Developers that submit proposals for the project will present their plans at community roundtables so residents can offer their input and evaluate each plan using surveys designed by the planning department.
“We will look to the community and the alderman to guide the decision-making process,” Parella said.
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