Competing developers have each submitted mixed-use proposals including more than 80 apartments apiece with ground-floor retail to replace a former Aldi grocery store and its parking lot in West Garfield Park.
Nonprofit Community Builders is behind a plan to build an $86.4 million, 101-unit apartment complex called Garfield Gather, which would also include a 9,500-square-foot grocery store. Another bid, submitted by a venture of East Lake Management, Citizens Building a Better Community, TruDelta and Project Forward, calls for a $78.1 million, 88-unit housing complex and a 13,800-square-foot grocery store and cafe, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
In 2022, Chicago officials attempted to tackle the issue of a growing food desert in the West Side neighborhood by acquiring the closed Aldi at 3835 West Madison Street for $700,000. The store’s closure in 2021 ignited debates over whether retailers exiting impoverished Black communities was a racial issue or pragmatic capitalism.
Thus, the city requested proposals for the property, inviting developers and community groups to submit ideas for a mixed-use development anchored by a grocery store, with the goal of increasing food access and revitalizing the area.
Community Builders’ plan also includes 67 parking spaces, a public plaza and additional retailers. The joint venture’s proposed development, dubbed Westgate, would feature a mix of apartments and townhomes, along with 66 parking spaces and public space. Both projects are set to include affordable units and design elements that pay homage to African-American culture.
Financing these projects could be a challenge, though. Even with roughly $20 million in city subsidies, most of it stemming from tax increment financing, the developers would need to raise additional capital or attain other forms of public funding, such as low-income housing tax credits.
Mike Tomas, executive director of the Garfield Park Community Council, is pleased with both proposals, he told the outlet.
— Quinn Donoghue