Grant Program Would Support At Least 20 New Businesses Along LaSalle Street

December 14, 2022

Department of Planning and Development    312.744.9267

New restaurants, cafes, and other neighborhood-oriented businesses would be incentivized to open in Chicago’s financial district through a $5 million grant program proposed to City Council today through Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot’s LaSalle Reimagined initiative.

Intended to foster mixed-use diversity on LaSalle Street between Court Place and Van Buren Street, the City’s Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) program would provide grants of up to $250,000 for projects that activate ground-level storefronts, lobbies, and former banking floors with pedestrian-oriented commercial and cultural uses. Building owners and tenants located along portions of Wells and Clark streets would also be eligible to apply.

“LaSalle’s future as a healthy, mixed-use business center depends on amenities being available for workers and residents — places where people can shop, eat, relax, and enjoy the experience of being in the heart of the Loop,” Department of Planning and Development (DPD) Commissioner Maurice Cox said. “This program would help building owners and retailers to achieve that goal on behalf of the entire city.”

SBIF utilizes Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues to help fund building improvement projects in TIF districts throughout the city. The program’s use in the LaSalle/Central TIF district would be the first time the program was made available to building owners and tenants downtown.

SBIF grants could include up to four projects per building, with $50,000 bonuses for Chicago businesses that are expanding from a low- or moderate-income neighborhood. The first SBIF allocations are expected to be rolled out in 2023.

Program funding would support the LaSalle Reimagined initiative, which was launched by Mayor Lightfoot this fall to address the corridor’s pervasive commercial and retail vacancy rates, estimated at 26% and 35%, respectively.

In addition to SBIF, the initiative includes City incentives to repurpose upper-floor office spaces as mixed-income housing and planned streetscape improvements that create a more neighborhood-oriented public realm. Applications for TIF assistance for upper-story, mixed-income residential projects are due by Dec. 23, 2022.


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