The Pullman National Monument in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago on August 26, 2021. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

PULLMAN — Two Black-owned companies are trying to get city grants to build a hotel and grocery store on the Far South Side.

The Pullman Hotel Group wants to build a 101-room, full-service hotel on part of the former Ryerson Steel plant site near 111th Street and Doty Avenue. Yellow Banana, which is reviving six Save A Lot stores on the South and West sides, is trying to build one from the ground up at 130th Street and Eberhardt Avenue in Altgeld Gardens, Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said.

The developers applied for $5 million grants from the Chicago Recovery Plan Community Development program, Crain’s first reported. The program is designed to funnel money toward small businesses and community initiatives.

The projects would bring much-needed resources to a quickly developing area, and the hotel could be the first one built south of Hyde Park in the past 40 years, Beale said.

The hotel “is going to bring so much attention, so much opportunity for people to grow their businesses because we’ll now have a place in the immediate area for business travel, for tournament travel,” Beale said. “All the businesses we have in the area, these people fly in and out, and they don’t have a place to stay in the immediate area.

“And … the Yellow Banana Save A Lot is going to address the food desert and lack of access to fresh produce and groceries in the Altgeld community and the Concordia, Eden Green area.”

Pullman Hotel

Andre Garner, managing partner for the Pullman Hotel Group, said they want the city grant to buy 4 acres on what is now Pullman Park, the massive redevelopment of the old steel site led by Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives. That’ll be the location of their four-story Hampton by Hilton Hotel.

The 62,000-square-foot hotel complex would have a business center, exercise room, indoor pool and on-site parking, according to a news release.

The project would create about 25 jobs, according to a news release.

Crews work on a gate to the Pullman National Monument in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago on August 26, 2021. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

David Doig, president of Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, suggested Pullman as a potential location for a South Side hotel in 2019, Garner said.  

While the pandemic stalled previous Pullman hotel development plans, Garner said he hopes the project can be successful this time.

“I’m very excited about it, but, also, I think it’s important for the community,” said Garner, of Englewood. “The idea of going on vacation or traveling or staying at a hotel was really kind of a gamechanger for me as a child growing up in the city, and my hope is that [it can be] for other children, and other people and families as well, vacationing and the idea that you go and visit places and, and you become a tourist, even if it’s locally.”

If everything goes well, construction would begin in early 2023, and the hotel would open in the first part of 2024, Garner said.

“I think what’s important to the psyche and the health of any community is that there’s a quality place for people to stay,” he said.

Michigan Avenue looking north, south of 112th Place, in the Roseland community on Feb. 7, 2022. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

Save A Lot

The proposed Altgeld Gardens grocery store would eliminate a food desert that has existed in the area for years, Beale said.

Michael Nance, co-founder of Yellow Banana, said the project has been in the works for several months. The city grant would help his team buy the space they hope to set up shop, which is 10,000-12,000 square feet, he said.

“The far South Side of Chicago has been isolated; it’s an extreme food desert,” Nance said. “It’s geographically isolated and isolated in terms of transportation. And we think that bringing in fresh, healthy and affordable food options is going to be really key to helping address some of that community’s food insecurity issues.”

The store also would help replace the void left by Rosebud, a store that sold groceries and other pantry staples that unexpectedly closed a few years ago, Beale said.

“It wasn’t a full grocery store, but they did provide a lot of immediate needs — milk, eggs, bread, meats and just those immediate things that [when] you run out of something, you can go real close and get something you know,” Beale said. “So this will do more than fill that void by having a Save-A-Lot in the community.”

The grocery store would bring around 20 full-time jobs and provide increased food options to 100,000 people living within 3 miles of the store’s proposed location.

If Yellow Banana were given city approval for its grant application, construction could take nine months to one year.

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