North Lawndale Q&A

On May 19 and 20, 2021, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) hosted a two-night public review of the six responses to the INVEST South/West Request for Proposals (RFP) in North Lawndale. The following is a select list of public questions from the event and answers.

Some of the questions have been combined or edited for the sake of brevity or clarity. Additional questions can always be directed to DPD staff at

General Questions

The questions in this section were reviewed and answered by DPD staff.

Why was this location chosen for the RFP?

The site was chosen because it is located on the Ogden Avenue INVEST South/West corridor and the City owns or has acquisition authority over all the parcels. It also benefits from strong transit access due to its proximity to the Central Park station on the CTA Pink Line.

Some of the proposal renderings show the outer lane or “service drive” on Ogden Avenue no longer existing. Is that happening and is CDOT involved?

Any significant changes to the roadway design of Ogden Avenue would be led by CDOT, in coordination with IDOT and community members and stakeholders. DPD and CDOT are currently exploring possibilities for long-term improvements to the section of Ogden that includes the RFP site.

Elevate X Hive Questions

The questions in this section were reviewed and answered by members of the Elevate X Hive team. The team’s pitch video is also available for review.

How is the project being financed?

The capital stack consists of debt and equity financing, including a senior mortgage of $1,642,000. The team will also be requesting $1.8 million in TIF financing, reduced land acquisition cost, 9% Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and a deferring the developer to fee to fund the project.

How will the project impact the neighborhood in terms of housing cost and traffic?

The plan includes a high share of studio apartments for students of the Hive Cosmetology and Fragrance School which are not anticipated to affect rent in the area and all the proposed units are affordable. Regarding the traffic generated by the site, this proposal preserves the service drive to allow for retail traffic and the proposal includes parking to accommodate the residential and retail uses.

How will this project benefit the community and how many members of the team reside in North Lawndale?

Britt Savage of Structure Group is originally from North Lawndale, John Bonds of Safeway Construction is a North Lawndale resident, and Bambi Montgomery of Hive Cosmetology and Fragrance School has worked for years in North Lawndale as the Communications Director of Urban Circle. The project will benefit the community by providing discounted health and wellness services, spa services, and an African-American hair museum.

What is the market size across the United States, and the market potential in Chicago for the sale of locally made beauty products that would potentially be produced in the school?

With people looking to find different careers due to economic changes caused by the pandemic, many people have begun to create their own beauty/body care products because they can start their business with a low volume of product.

What is the difference between Elevate X Hive and the Lawndale Christian Health Center?

This project is not affiliated with the Lawndale Christian Health Center.

How will community youth be involved in the project and will there be job opportunities for them?

There will be a children’s program in the school where children learn about fragrances and have programs that teach youth how to make their own beauty and body care products and market them.

Are there retail spaces being offered in the proposal and who might occupy them?

There are five retail spaces in the development, but no commitments at this time outside of Hive. The team is looking to incorporate a dry cleaner and café into the retail spaces.

Is this project catalytic for our community? Will it spur and inspire other development throughout North Lawndale like 16th Street or Roosevelt Road?

The Elevate & Hive Health & Wellness Campus will have a catalytic impact as follows:

• The licensed cosmetologists that transition from the Elevate X Hive school can create their own health and wellness establishments throughout the vacant retail corridors that exist in North Lawndale and the West Side.
• Elevate X Hive Phase 2 plan encompasses the development of a manufacturing and distribution facility within the North Lawndale community for Hive products.
• The retail tenants such as a cafe & bakery, dry cleaners, amongst others, will potentially attract more retail development within North Lawndale.
• The growth in consumer spending and taxable revenue that will be generated from the Elevate X Hive campus will be approximately $10 million for North Lawndale.
• The Elevate X Hive development will spark homeownership within the North Lawndale community.

How long are you able to live in the residential units?

The residences of the Elevate X Hive Campus can reside on the premises for as
long as they choose to. There is no term limit for residential occupancy.

How did you come up with this team and have you all worked together before?

The Elevate X Hive development team was assembled based upon relationships that were cultivated 20 years ago. Collectively, we studied and respected each other’s areas of expertise. Furthermore, we truly bonded with a mutual goal to development outstanding commercial projects for the West Side of Chicago. Although some team members have collaborated on other projects, the Invest South/West Austin RFP was our first collaboration.

Lawndale ReDefined Questions

The questions in this section were reviewed and answered by members of the Lawndale Redefined team. The team’s pitch video is also available for review.

How will the development team prioritize North Lawndale residents in the project?

The project will provide temporary construction jobs and permanent jobs in the restaurant and retail tenants that will b open to North Lawndale residents. Residents will also have access to training in crypto-currency and other technology topics in “The Cube” educational center.

What is Mr. Griggs’ experience as a developer?

Mr. Griggs grew up on the West Side and his current business is located there. He is currently working on developing veterans housing in North Lawndale and his experience as a contractor of over 18 years who has worked in communities of color has prepared him to transition to the role of developer.

Does the height of the housing building require a zoning change?

This project would require a Planned Development application and go to Plan Commission for consideration. Zoning compliance will be addressed through this process.

How much will rent be in the apartments? And do you see this project affecting rent for other residents in the area?

The developer has tried to ensure the mix of affordable and market-rate units is appropriate to the community. The average monthly rents in the project, by unit size, are as follows:

• One-bedroom: $850
• Two-bedroom: $1,100
• Three-bedroom: $1,400
• Four-bedroom: $1,745

Can you please state the location of all the parking for these residences?

A parking lot with 39 spaces is located on the ground floor of the multi-family residential building that is located on the north side of the site and behind the townhomes on the west side of the site. These spaces are intended for the residential units.

Have any retail or commercial tenants been identified?

David Terrell’s Fresh Market will occupy the small-scale grocer space. The development team is working to identify potential opportunities for growing local businesses to occupy the other restaurant and retail spaces.

A grocery store is opening at Mt. Sinai in Ogden Commons. Does it make sense to have two grocery stores within less than a mile of this site?

Unlike the store planned for Ogden Commons, this proposal includes a small-scale grocer that is focused more on residents of the development and surrounding area.

What are your plans to hire workers who are not in unions?

GMA Construction, the lead contractor for the proposal, prioritizes local hiring for individuals who may not be in unions. That would also apply to construction workers for this project.

Is there any exterior space for residents, exclusively?

There is a roof deck on the second floor and an exercise area exclusively for residents.

What systems are included in any of these proposed structures to retain stormwater on site?

Stormwater management on the site will likely include a combination of underground storage, rain gardens and green roofs.

Are seniors included in the residential configuration?

There are no restrictions on the age of residents in the development.

Are there initiatives for health and wellness regarding gym or recreational spaces?

Lawndale ReDefined has incorporated resident and community well-being into many aspects of the design:
• The residential building includes a fitness center on the second floor with access to the outside terrace. The terrace can be used for classes such as yoga in addition to other uses desired by the residents (meeting and event space).
• The team has purposefully not assigned tenants to our retail spaces in order to work more closely with the community to determine the final uses. Should the community desire, one or multiple retail spaces can be used as additional gym/recreational space.
• The History Trail provides a public walking path that allows for people to exercise outdoors within the Project site.
• The design encourages pedestrian activity by connecting with the local bicycle network.

Pricing for the for-sale townhomes was not addressed. Will these homes be affordable to people living in the community?

The for-sale townhomes will be priced at $350,000 each. The townhomes will be delivered in Phase 2 of the development. Jobs and employment opportunities prioritized for North Lawndale residents during Phase 1 will enable current residents of North Lawndale the financial ability to purchase the townhomes.

OG Lawndale Questions

The questions in this section were reviewed and answered by members of the OG Lawndale team. The team’s pitch video is also available for review.

Why the name “OG Lawndale?”

“OG” is short for Ogden and pays homage to the street’s importance in the community.

Has the team talked to local businesses and residents for their input on this project?

The team has a close relationship to North Lawndale with business leaders in the community due to past work or involvement in the community. Deon Lucas of the development team grew up in the community.

What is being proposed inside the buildings?

One building is residential with 50 mixed-income units ranging from one-bedroom to three-bedroom units and the other is an office building that does not yet have an identified tenant. There are retail spaces on the ground floors of both proposed buildings.

How are the building’s uses separated and connected?

The residential building is six stories tall with retail on the ground floor and residential on floors two through six. The office building is four stories tall with retail on the ground floor and office uses on floors two through four. The two buildings are separated by an arcade oriented north and south with a pedestrian plaza in front of both buildings.

How did you arrive at the construction cost and how will you ensure the commercial space will succeed?

Gorman & Company is an experienced developer that has a proven cost estimate approach based on the square footage of various land uses. Regarding the commercial spaces, the E.G. Woode organization, which is part of the development team, focuses on supporting community-based small businesses and entrepreneurs. The developer intends for 90 percent of the retail space in the development to be operated by local businesses.

What is the stormwater management plan for this design proposal? Is there other green infrastructure?

The plaza space will include permeable pavers and rooftops will also store stormwater.

Who is the general contractor?

Gorman & Company and PAC Leaders are the lead contractors, but the team will build opportunities for small local contractors to bid on the project, as well.

How many jobs will be created by this project? Will local residents be hired for construction jobs in addition to union jobs?

The development team estimates 200 construction jobs and 400 permanent jobs. Gorman & Company ensures that a share of the budget is reserved for local labor who are not union members.

Will returning citizens be included in the construction hiring?

Gorman & Company has experience incorporating returning citizens on previous projects and will continue to do so on this project.

You mentioned the outreach the city has done, what was/is your engagement strategy and how did that inform your proposal?

Members of the OG Lawndale team have been deeply involved in the INVEST South/West planning and community efforts and appreciate the work the City did to create an environment to draw community input and create amazing design options for the North Lawndale project. We consider this work foundational. We also consider that effort is only the beginning. While our team did go to the site, talk with neighbors and participate in previous INVEST South/West meetings, we want the engagement to continue and flourish. It is our position that if we are awarded the project and the trust of our community to execute, we must grow that trust through even deeper and more transparent engagement. We have created a draft plan to use for our development efforts that helps to keep the planning work open, honest, and transparent. The plan also focuses on equity in gather voices and input and has been adapted to ensure COVID-friendly engagement and participation.

The plan is formed around three primary objectives:

• Ensure there is transparency throughout the entire process.
• Provide opportunities for all stakeholders to exchange ideas, discuss priorities, and work together across teams to deliver the best possible product (including services) for our community.
• Ensure residents, subcontractors, and community stakeholders are aware of contract and training opportunities that exist throughout the development process.

Pivot North Lawndale Questions

The questions in this section were reviewed and answered by members of the Pivot North Lawndale team. The team’s pitch video is also available for review.

What type of housing will be available in the development?

The proposal consists of a 54-unit multi-family building with 30 one-bedroom units, 16 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units. However, the unit count is subject to change. Eight of the units would be rented at market-rate, 33 are 60% AMI (area median income) affordable units, 10 are 50% AMI affordable units and three are 30% AMI affordable units.

How many jobs would be generated by the project?

The development team estimates that 220-300 temporary construction jobs would be created, which would include the hiring of 10-20 North Lawndale residents. Additionally, 32 permanent jobs would be created, which includes 20 in the retail spaces, 10 in the incubator, and two to four in the residential portion.

How much would the rent be in the units and how would PIVOT affect rental prices in North Lawndale?

At 30% AMI the one, two and three-bedroom rents are $392, $470 and $540, respectively. At 50% AMI the one, two and three-bedroom rents are $716, $860 and $993, respectively. At 60% AMI the one, two and three-bedroom rents are $879, $1,055 and $1,218, respectively. Market rate units would be higher. This diversity in affordable rents is not expected to impact rental prices in North Lawndale.

What is the total budget of the project?

The total project budget is $27,000,000.

Tell us the age range your proposal will engage the most, and how this targeted age range will benefit North Lawndale most?

The property is expected to accommodate households from new families to senior citizens. The development team has designed the housing mix based on their research and knowledge of what is best suited for the community.

Have you selected a general contractor for the project?

GMA construction

Who will manage the property?

New Covenant CDC will run the business incubator and Michaels Management will be responsible for the rest of the property.

What is your strategy for hiring from the community with this project being governed under a project labor agreement (PLA)?

New Covenant prioritizes hiring from the community in all their work and will continue to do so for this project by partnering with local hiring agencies. Michaels Development will create an inclusion plan with their general contractor and partner with a local workforce group for outreach to the community to locate local workers. They will also target local businesses in trades where union labor is not required.

Would your team be open to providing more three-bedroom units?

Yes, they are open to revising the unit size mix and intend to pursue further community feedback to inform the design of the project on aspects such as unit size.

How will you all prioritize youth in the community with this project?

New Covenant’s business facility would provide training opportunities for youth on how to run a business and other similar topics. There will also be a community center that can hold up to 100 people for flexible programming. Michaels Development runs a scholarship program called the Michaels Education Foundation that is open to anyone living in a Michaels property and awards between $750,000 to $1,500,000 a year.

Outside of dining what other potential businesses are expected to be engaged with this project?

The retail spaces are designed to house businesses in North Lawndale and support entrepreneurs. They have potential candidates for these spaces who make unique products, such as jewelry and watches. Michaels Development recently completed a project in Bronzeville with eight commercial spaces that were all leased to African-American tenants. Flexibility is important because businesses identified today may no longer be available by the time the project is complete.

Will Future Firm help New Covenant design the micro-business tenant spaces?

Yes. Future Firm has experience working with small and medium-sized entrepreneurs in North Lawndale, including Bobby Price of Principal Barbers and Edwin Muldrow of Del-Kar Pharmacy. Future Firm is working with multiple business owners on the West and South Sides of Chicago under the City's Invest South/West program. They will be involved in all aspects of the first-floor design, including incubator, micro-business, commercial space and community room design.

GMA presented yesterday. how was the partnership developed?

Michaels has been trying to partner with GMA for more than two years now on Chicago-area projects out for RFP with limited success. They pursued a high-rise redevelopment with them in 2018 and were unsuccessful. They reached out to GMA during the initial stages of this project to see if they would be our general contractor on the project and they accepted. They communicated that they are pursuing the site as a developer/GC under another team and the teams collectively agreed that they were comfortable with both roles.

What commitment to the community to developing jobs, businesses, and affordable housing if you are NOT selected?

New Covenant CDC is based in North Lawndale and will remain based in North Lawndale following the award. Their mission is to work with individuals and small businesses to establish community stability through entrepreneurial economic development, which includes business development, financial development and one-on-one coaching. This work will continue regardless of who is selected to develop this site. Michaels Development has completed 17 affordable/mixed-income properties in Chicago over the past 19 years. Fourteen of these projects are located on Chicago's South and West sides, including Park Douglas in North Lawndale and City Gardens in East Garfield Park. They are also currently working with the Chicago Housing Authority to redevelop a senior building in North Lawndale. At all these properties, Michaels’ commitment is to not only develop high-quality affordable housing for low- and moderate-income Chicagoans, but also to utilize community development strategies to address local hiring (temporary and permanent) and business development efforts. Regardless of the outcome of this RFP, the team remains committed to developing and managing affordable housing across the City of Chicago, including providing scholarships to residents of their developments.

Where is Michaels Development based?

The company is based in Camden, New Jersey, but has operated a branch in Chicago for over 20 years. The branch is currently based in the Printer’s Row neighborhood.

Does your design include special attention to energy efficiency, sustainability and technology integration such as broadband Internet, Community Area Wi-Fi and SMART building and living space management?

The development team is hoping to achieve LEED Gold certification, meaning it would be a high-performing energy efficient building. This would require low heating and cooling costs for residents and the building operator. The building would provide broadband and free wi-fi to certain areas, such as the rooftop deck and fitness center.

What is the stormwater management for this design proposal? Other green infrastructure?

The details are still being decided but the building would likely include permeable pavers and green roofs to store stormwater on-site. Energy savings that are accomplished through efficient design will be passed onto residents to lower housing costs.

Proxima Hotel Questions

The questions in this section were reviewed and answered by members of the Proxima Hotel team. The team’s pitch video is also available for review.

The construction of this type of project could possibly disrupt the community, how do you intend to engage them and inform them of progress?

If awarded, the team will immediately begin outreach to the community and City departments to keep them informed and make the project as least disruptive as possible. They will create a plan that responds to concerns.

What are the number of construction jobs that will go to the community?

The development team will work with the North Lawndale Employment Network to train and hire local labor to fill 10 to 15 construction jobs.

With hotels in serious trouble all over the country, what economic metrics help them to believe that this will work?

The team is expecting that the current economic circumstances are temporary and that a more stable market will be in place by the time the project is completed.

How will this hotel benefit North Lawndale residents?

The development team plans to create a leadership development program that would train inexperienced workers to management levels within the organization. Additionally, hotel customers will be driving more consumer spending in North Lawndale and supporting local businesses. Statistics show that for every $100 spent in a hotel, customers will spend an additional $200 in other businesses as part of their stay.

Who are your target customers?

The development team anticipates that business will be driven primarily by the location’s proximity to Sinai Hospital and Cinespace film studios. The Riot Fest music festival is another major event nearby that can encourage business.

Does the team have financing in place and who are the financing partners?

Financing partners generally include regional banks and capital institutions. The team has introduced the project to their financing partners and they have responded possibly, but they will not have commitments until they have confirmation the project has been chosen for the RFP. Since it was established, Proxima has developed over 30 hotels and has strong experience with mid-scale to upper mid-scale franchise hotels.

Who will own the hotel?

Proxima Management and a collection of their investors.

What are the food and commercial options for visitors?

There are many dining options either currently in North Lawndale or coming to the area. Ja’ Grill and Steak and Shake are coming to the Ogden Commons development, as well as Momentum Café. The Green Tomato Café is currently open in the Lawndale Christian Health Center, the Bee Love Café is coming to the North Lawndale Employment Network’s new facility and a new location of Soule Chicago will be opening in the community. The development team will also prioritize local restaurants in the tenant spaces of the project.

How was the team brought together and were any North Lawndale residents part of that vision?

The team members have worked together in the past and were inspired by the INVEST South/West initiative focusing on Ogden Avenue. Development advisor Reyahd Kazmi lives near North Lawndale and was inspired to bring the project to this location and involve Brenda-Palms Barber from the community.

What is the price range for hotel rooms?

The project team will focus on attracting a mid- to upper-scale franchise. Prices are anticipated to be lower than hotels that are located in downtown Chicago and surrounding neighborhoods. The exact price range has not yet been determined because a franchise partner has not been determined.

What safety precautions will be taken for residents, and customers of the hotel?

The project will have multiple safety layers including but not limited to physical and digital. It would utilize industry-recognized best practices for the safekeeping of customer and employee personally identifiable data. Similarly, it would utilize industry best practices, recommendations from community leaders, and local law enforcement to inform our physical security posture. At a minimum, it would employ the following: a state-of-the-art security system with cameras and geo-fencing, security professionals, communication devices for hotel staff, periodic property walks to name a few. Additionally, depending on the security assessment from local law enforcement, private security may be added based on the environment of the hotel and its surrounding community at the time (ex: if there a big or special event at the time like Riot Fest in Douglass Park, any special events at nearby tourist/destination sites like Cinespace or Lagunitas or Illinois Medical District or even nearby hospitals).

What portion of the hotel’s operations will be outsourced to locally owned minority companies? (E.g. security service, cleaning services, etc.)

Within the confines of the selected hotel brand’s requirements, multiple portions of the hotel’s operations from private security to exterior cleaning services to local community partnerships/marketing will have the ability to be executed by locally-owned MBEs. In addition, staffing within the hotel will include numerous employees from the community which is why the development team is honored to partner with North Lawndale Employment Network.

What are the community wealth-building components of the plan?

This development will bring a financial impact of not only a minimum of 30 permanent, full-time positions ranging from $35k - $75k for members of the community, but also an economic impact of $100 million for North Lawndale and its surrounding communities from hotel guests patronizing local businesses and destination spots, to the construction of this development, to increased foot traffic in the community. The hotel development will also provide opportunities for a retail component and restaurant/rooftop bar component where we expect to engage with the community and surrounding local small businesses for development/integration into the hotel development.

The Tapestry Questions

The questions in this section were reviewed and answered by members of The Tapestry team. The team’s pitch video is also available for review.

How does your proposal address the financial hurdles and other kinds of barriers blocking Black and Brown people owning and building intergenerational wealth through homeownership?

This project is a rental housing development so there are no opportunities for homeownership, however, Lawndale Christian Development Corporation is involved in other projects that support homeownership in the community, such as 1,000 Homes. Another way to generate local wealth is through entrepreneurship and this project will support that through the food hall for local small businesses and the co-working space. These amenities will allow growing local businesses to expand.

What types of permanent jobs will be created?

The 50 permanent jobs that will be created will be in property management spaces and the retail and restaurant spaces, such as the food hall.

What are the rental prices for the units and how will this project impact surrounding rents in North Lawndale?

Affordable units will be offered at 30%, 50% and 60% AMI, meaning rents will span from $400 to $1,500 for one- to three-bedroom units. Additionally, 25% of the households will receive rental assistance, which allows families to pay no more than 30% of their income towards housing expenses.

Would the team still be willing to develop a food hall and affordable housing elsewhere in North Lawndale if not selected for the RFP?

Yes, Lawndale Christian Development Corporation has a long-term presence in the community and would consider other locations for this proposal, although this site is their “plan A.”

Please clarify the capital stack again and how much equity the team is bringing to the project.

The total development cost for the project is $31 million. The team has three financing scenarios to fund the project. The first would mainly rely on private debt, 4% low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) and City assistance, the second would mainly rely on private debt with both 4% and 9% LIHTC and City assistance, the third would mainly rely on private debt, 4% LIHTC and New Market Tax Credits with less reliance on City assistance.

What is stormwater management for this design proposal? Other green infrastructure?

The proposal includes permeable pavers in the parking lot and public plaza, as well as green roofs to manage stormwater. The building will also use sustainable building materials that embrace sustainable supply chains. There will be seven electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lot and solar panels on the roof.

Beyond construction, will there be opportunities for local and Chicago-area small diverse businesses to be suppliers to this project through all phases of development and in ongoing operations of the business?

Our organizations make it a practice to do this right now. Our landscaping, pest control, insurance, maintenance, HVAC, plumbing, painting, electrical and essentially any service that you can imagine are currently fulfilled by local and/or businesses of color. Additionally, if there are opportunities for diverse suppliers of windows, cabinets, flooring, electrical and plumbing supplies, we are always looking to source new diverse and local vendors that can compete on price and quality.

Has the team designed and built a net-zero or living building challenge in Chicago before as mentioned in the proposal?

Design partners AP Monarch and Urban Works have been a part of building projects that have come close to these standards and experience with projects that are LEED certified. Veronica Gonzalez of NHP Foundation, in a previous role, was the first project manager at the CHA to deliver a LEED Platinum project.

How successful has wealth building for residents been implemented by LCDC to date?

LCDC has been developing projects in North Lawndale for 32 years and in that time they have completed multiple projects that promote economic development and wealth building for residents. One example is the 1,000 Homes project that promotes homeownership for community residents. They are also pursuing a cooperative development in partnership with other organizations that would promote ownership for businesses.

As a proposed unifying (North and South Lawndale) project, what would a strategy look like to attract residents from all parts of North Lawndale?

The Tapestry team conducted five large and small group meetings with a host of stakeholders from both communities on Zoom before the community-wide presentation on 5/20/21. We anticipate continuing to have small group gatherings to talk about the plan and elicit feedback, critique and gain insight from community residents, business owners, churches, non-profits, both on Zoom and in person. We plan to begin that work in late June in both communities. Having a community organizing background helps our team to have gained the trust of stakeholders BEFORE a development happens. We do not take those relationships for granted and understand that trust is a precious commodity and so we will create a logistics plan to meet with leaders that live in the community during evening hours. Furthermore, these meetings will serve as an opportunity to publicize the development in English and in Spanish and answer questions that folks who missed the Zoom on 5/20/21 can ask.