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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Plan For Offices At Washington Park National Bank Building Gets $5 Million City Grant

The project will replace most of the deteriorating bank building with high-end offices and retail space while preserving the century-old façade.

The vacant Washington Park National Bank building at 6300 S. Cottage Grove Avenue.
John Morris/Chicago Patterns
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WOODLAWN — A long-stalled effort to build high-end offices on the site of the century-old Washington Park National Bank building in Woodlawn has received a multimillion-dollar boost from the city.

Developer Revive 6300’s project to build more than 60,000 square feet of office space at 6300 S. Cottage Grove Ave. received a $5 million community development grant, city officials announced last week.

The development plans also call for a rooftop deck with skyline views, public art installations, ground-floor dining and other retail options. The project is estimated to cost $40 million.

The development will bring the first new Class A office space to communities south of the University of Chicago in decades, said Leon Walker, managing partner of DL3 Realty.

DL3 is behind Revive 6300 and numerous South Side projects, including the Friend Health center across the street from the former bank building, the Park Station mixed-income development a block east and the Jewel-Osco a couple blocks north.

The Cook County Land Bank bought the Washington Park National Bank building in 2017. At the time, the building had accumulated about $3.7 million in unpaid taxes over a quarter-century of being empty.

The land bank approved DL3’s proposal to redevelop the property in 2019. But the parties didn’t close on a sale at the time, and they have spent the past four years grappling with issues like flooding in the existing structure, uncertainty over Opportunity Zone regulations and the pandemic.

“We have signed a purchase and sale agreement, and it’s fully executed by the land bank board,” Walker said this week. “We have our deposits and were waiting to get some of this city funding in place before closing.”

Site plans have “dramatically” changed since DL3’s initial proposal, Walker said.

The limestone façade on the 99-year-old building will be preserved and renovated, but the rest of the structure will be demolished and rebuilt due to roof, flooding and masonry damage and other issues. The developers previously planned to demolish the entire building.

The land bank’s 2018 structural assessment report found “the existing framing system of the building is structurally sound, intact, and still in good condition.”

“We were able to adapt the development plan so that it preserves what the community saw as an attractive — though it’s not historic — but an attractive structure for many,” Walker said. “They wanted to have that preserved, and we were able to do that.”

No construction timeframe has been set, but the developers aim to finish in 2025, Walker said.

Walker declined to share the names of potential tenants at the property, but the developers have secured “early commitments” to sign leases, he said. DL3 officials said in 2020 they were in negotiations with the YWCA and UChicago.

The city’s $5 million grant will pay development costs, allowing the developers to offer “rents that are reasonable for businesses that want to locate in Woodlawn,” Walker said.

The project continues DL3’s effort to guide Woodlawn from being “historically disinvested to a more inclusive and equitable community,” and it has received support from Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th), Walker said.

Other community development grants announced this month include $3.1 million to Demera Ethiopian Restaurant for a Bronzeville location, $250,000 to Kilwins in Hyde Park for expansion plans and $250,000 to La Catrina LLC to redevelop a vacant East Side property into a banquet hall.

The grants are supported by city bond funds and tax increment financing funds.

They’ll help “ensure our city’s economic recovery while revitalizing our neighborhoods,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement.

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