North Avenue RFP Q&A

On Sept. 28, 2021, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) hosted a review of the two responses to the INVEST South/West Request for Proposals (RFP) for the North Avenue Corridor in Humboldt Park. The following is a select list of public questions from the event and answers.

General questions were answered by DPD staff, while the developer questions were answered in writing by each development team, with only minor revisions for length. Additional questions can always be directed to DPD staff at

General Questions

Why was this location chosen for the RFP?

DPD engaged Alderman Maldonado and local community stakeholders in a process to identify valuable but underutilized sites along the North Avenue INVEST South/West corridor. Through consensus the Pioneer Bank was selected due to its historic significance and prominent location. In addition, the owners of the Pioneer Bank building agreed to participate in the INVEST South/West initiative.

Can you describe the Pioneer Bank site?

The site consist of ten (10) privately-owned parcels located at 4000 to 4008 W .North Ave . and 1616 to 1638 N . Pulaski Road. Together, these parcels make up the northwest corner of North Avenue and Pulaski Road. The site features three main components: the landmark, vacant Pioneer Bank building, the adjacent two-story Annex building and eight vacant parcels immediately north of Pioneer Bank along the west side of Pulaski Road.

Both proposals anticipate a library as part of the project, is that a branch location for the Chicago Public Library?

Yes. The Chicago Public Library expressed interest in relocating their existing North/Pulaski Branch location to a modern and larger building. The Chicago Public Library is currently assessing its operations and will await selection of a winning RFP respondent to determine if it is feasible to locate a branch at the site.

Hispanic Housing Questions

Are you a for profit developer or a non-profit developer?

Hispanic Housing Development Corporation is a non-profit developer with 45 years of experience.

Please describe the affordable housing program.

The proposed affordable housing structure for Los Pioneros is a City of Chicago tax-exempt bond and a non-competitive 4% low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC). Sale of the LIHTC’s to a private investor will generate a substantial sum of equity capital, but as with all rent-restricted LIHTC projects (especially the 4% credit projects), there will be a need for additional capital to fill the financial gap. HHDC will pursue private grant opportunities as well as City of Chicago soft debt to help fill that gap. The final layer of capital will come in the form of long-term private debt. This multilayered private-public partnership approach has been successful and has been the nation’s primary means of developing affordable rental housing.

Can you be sure to share a complete breakdown of the number and type (# of bedrooms) of units at each including % AMI targeted?

Sixteen, 1-bed units at 30%, 50% and 60% AMI. Thirty-seven, 2-bed units 30%, 50% and 60% AMI. Twenty-three, 3-bed units at 30%, 50% and 60% AMI.

How will Hispanic Housing and future management ensure that this space will forever be protected from the kind of luxury real estate speculation that has been so destructive to our community of Humboldt Park?

In our 45-year history as a non-profit, Hispanic Housing’s mission and goal has been not just to  do a deal and leave the neighborhood, but to establish comprehensive development strategies to stabilize long-term residents and be part of communities for the long haul. In fact, we maintained affordability in our housing developments well past federally-required compliance periods. We do not sell our properties; we maintain them and enrich our resident’s lives.

Can you speak to the library component of the project? Is this an existing or new library? Who  will be managing it? What is the sq ft?

The proposed Community Library for Los Pioneros will include the design and construction of a New Branch Library for the Chicago Public Library system. The new branch will be located within the restored Historic Pioneer Bank structure. The new library will involve the re-location of the existing North Pulaski Branch, currently located at 4300 W. North Ave, which at only 6,000 SF, is unable to accommodate broader library programs. This new library will include a total of 19,000 SF and features the following amenities:

  • Education, Reading, Workforce Training, Computer Lab, and Activity Space for all age groups; from early child to teens and adults.
  • The lower-level vault floor will also house a new Community Maker Space, Sound Studio, additional teen stack and lounge
  • A central feature of the new Library design is our proposed New Hispanic Heritage Lounge and Literature Annex, which HHDC is committed to donating books to. This will celebrate the unique heritage and rich culture of the Humboldt Park Community.

The HED and HHDC spent significant time with the Chicago Public Library (CPL) to layout the space based on their program and will work with CPL to assess their preference to own or lease the space. Should the space be leased, HHDC will manage the building.

Is there a provision for parking for residents and for the patients and patrons of the companies that will be housed at the project?

Our proposal includes 130 parking spaces. It includes 96 on-site parking spaces in the multi-level parking structure of the new residential building. An additional 34 parking spaces are provided off-site in the surface lot at the corner of Pulaski and Wabansia. Of the total 130 spaces, 46 will be set aside for the residential units and the remaining 84 spaces will be for employees and patrons of the commercial space tenants.

Are there any community event spaces and what will be the plan to utilize them?

There are four formal community event spaces that have been designed into our proposal. They include:

  • The entire second floor of the annex building along with the landscaped rooftop terrace above it, will be dedicated for community programming, meetings, and events, and will be provided by way of an equitable first-come, first-served
  • The Library’s first floor in the bank building will be made available for public events upon request and It will also serve as a tutorial venue for entrepreneurial seminars and conferences.
  • The public plaza and pavilion, housing Nellie’s Café and restaurant, will provide a venue for community gatherings, as well as art and entertainment
  • The En Las Tablas organization to be situated on the first floor of our affordable housing building will provide a theater/stage for performances by their students, the Repetorio Latino Theater group, and other community and cultural

Los Pioneros Community Events Space Outline (SF)

Pioneer Annex:

  • Rm: 2,575 SF
  • GreenRoofandAmenityDeck:2,575SF

Pioneer Bank/Library

  • Heritage Lounge and Events Space: 3,000 SF
  • CommunityRoom:2,000SF

La Plaza and Pavillion:

  • Outdoor Plaza Space: 3,360SF
  • Indoor Event Space: 2,330 SF

 En las Tables:

  • Theater / performance area: 1,400 SF

Total Combined Community and Events Space: 17,240 SF

What is your projected construction schedule?

Acquisition of the site, entitlements, and financing will take roughly one year and construction will take approximately between 1.5 to two years.

Park Row Questions

Are you a for profit developer or a non-profit developer?

We are a for-profit developer.

What other developments has Park Row built?  

Park Row Development (PRD) is a new company that was founded by Luis Puig and Matt Mosher in November 2020. We founded PRD with the intent of developing mixed-use developments that focus on affordable housing, particularly in communities that have historically been underserved. We are passionate about affordable housing and believe our approach will be unique in that for every project we are pursuing, profit is not our primary motivation and having supportive services and amenities are an absolute must. We want our developments to not only house families and individuals with dignity and the same amenities as market rate developments, and we also want to provide supportive services and partner with the right community organizations and commercial entities to give our residents opportunities to generate personal wealth and opportunities.

As a company, PRD has not built any developments yet, but our individual experience brought us together and is extensive. Prior to starting PRD (and still), Luis Puig owns and operate ALL Masonry and ALL Construction Group. ALL Masonry (ALL) has been in Luis’ family for 40-years and started in this specific community. Luis and his family not only started their business in Humboldt Park, but they lived and grew-up in this community. Luis started ALL Construction Group approximately 6-years ago to leverage his knowledge as a masonry subcontractor to provide overall general contracting services. Specific developments Luis helped build as a masonry and envelope contractor include Diversey Manor, Fannie Emmanuel Senior Apartments, Lathrop Homes, and the John Pennycuff Apartments. Prior to starting PRD, Matt Mosher was the Chief Construction Officer for the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and has spent his entire career (22 years) managing large capital programs, including affordable housing developments at the CHA. Matt started at the CHA in 2016 and oversaw the planning, design, construction, and closeout of all capital projects until he left to form PRD with Luis in November of 2020. Some specific highlights include construction management of the work at the Lathrop Homes, planning and construction of the three public library project co-located within housing developments at the Taylor Street Apartments/Little Italy Branch, the Northtown Affordable Apartments and Library, and the Independence Library and Apartments.

Does anyone in the team have experience managing affordable housing?

Yes, our partner, Torrey Barrett and his companies Imagine Group and Advance Consulting Services have extensive experience managing affordable housing. They will take the lead on the property management components of this development if we are selected. Our plan is to reach out to the community to get feedback on who they want managing the property, and if the community has no objections, Torrey and his team will do what they do best.

How are you proposing to ensure these buildings (housing and community space) remains affordable and accessible now and in the future? 

If we are selected, we will commit to keeping the development affordable and can do so in anyway the city and community deem appropriate. Our commitment comes for our desire to form PRD to specifically develop affordable projects. That said, we also have objective assurances within our proposal. These assurances come from the type of funding we plan to use and our community partners. 

For the new, mixed-use building, we intend to use Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to finance a significant portion of the development costs. LIHTC locks-in the affordability aspects of the residential rents and we will maintain that affordability for the lifetime of the LIHTC. 

For the commercial spaces in the bank building, our partners (BTEC and Arquitectos) are non-profit organizations that are commercial entities but also community service providers. For them to be successful, we believe that affordable, below market rents are necessary to allow them to successfully provide the services they will provide.

Can you please expand on what you mean by community space? Is it just a business incubator? Or will the space be available for residents to use for community events, meetings, cultural events, etc.? 

Community space to us means any space where people from the community can gather and benefit. As such, our proposed development offers three unique community spaces: 

1) Amenity space exclusive for the residents of the housing portion 

2) The public library on the 1st floor of the residential building that will be open to the public 

3) The first two floors of the bank building that will be occupied by our community partners that are also commercial tenants.

Use of the library space for community events will need to be coordinated through Chicago Public Library, but the first floors of the bank building will absolutely be available for community meetings, community events, and cultural events.

Do you have a rendering showing the first floor of the bank? If not, can you describe how you envision renovating that space?

We do not have a rendering for the first floor of the bank building yet. Our vision for this space will be to preserve the space while infusing elements of Latino culture and heritage into the new design. The current structure lends itself nicely to an open concept that will allow our community partners to provide the services they provide, but also convert and open the space for community and cultural meetings and events. Based on feedback we’ve already received from members of the community, our proposed approach seems favorable because our plan will not involve new, rigid structures that cannot be moved, like elements of a new public library branch, to facilitate open community meetings. Our community partners will be able to provide their services and we can move their operations around from the first floor to accommodate community and cultural events and meetings. We believe that this is the best way to reactivate this building as a true cultural hub for the community.

Will the 110 parking spots be exclusively for residents or is there a separate space for residents and another for patrons of businesses within the complex?

No, not all 110 of the spots will be exclusive for the residents of the housing building. Also, the 110 spot count does not include surface parking that will be available adjacent to the proposed new library. That said, of the 110 spaces, we plan on reserving 75 for the residents. The remaining 35 will be dedicated to patrons of the commercial/bank building and the library.

Can you describe how the architecture relates to the local context; both in how it interacts with the Pioneer Bank itself and how it reflects Latino heritage? 

We set out to design a building that stands out but fits in with the existing bank building. We wanted to maintain the bank building but extend it to infuse elements of Latino culture in Chicago. The aspect that distinguishes our design is that it represents a unique blend of continuing the history of the Pioneer Bank building and the language of the bank that naturally extends into the new development to the north side of the site.  In addition, our team recognizes that Latino culture in Chicago is incredibly diverse and constitutes many different countries.  We have painstakingly explored how to incorporate each one of those unique cultures into the building design.  As witnessed in our presentation, each respective Latino culture’s color and heritage is represented in the building exterior and can be experienced when moving from the north side to the south side of the site.  It is a unique contrast and complement between culture and history that makes our design a true embodiment of design excellence in Chicago.

What is your proposed construction schedule?

Due to the different nature of the proposed financing tools for the bank building and the new housing building, the construction schedules will be different for each. All efforts will be made to improve our proposed dates. Our proposed construction schedule is as follows:

  • Commence Renovations of the Bank Building-August 2022
  • Complete Renovations of the Bank Building-December 2023
  • Commence New Construction of the Housing Building- December 2023
  • Complete Construction of the Housing Building- June 2025