United Yards will revitalize the Back of the Yards community.
In this article, I will discuss the following:
1. the History of United Yards development
2. Invest South/West Initiative
3. United Yards IA
4. United Yards IB
5. United Yards IC
6. Benefits of United Yards
I will help you understand this exciting, comprehensive mixed-use housing development.
So first, on to the history of United Yards...
History of United Yards
The idea for this project was initially formed in 2014 after the development of New City Supportive Living is finished.
It involves affordable rental homes, retail and commercial spaces, a federally-qualified health center (FQHC), and community space.
United Yards encompasses four sites for redevelopment in a $60 million endeavor.
This is a community-driven development managed by Chicago-based and minority-owned developers and firms - Celadon Partners, The Blackwood Group, Back of the Yards Works, and DesignBridge.
The Chicago City government picked this development to revitalize the 47th Street and Ashland Avenue commercial corridor as part of the Invest South/West initiative.
According to the developers, they envision an immediate corridor activation, that might otherwise take decades to develop and revitalize this once-thriving corridor.
United Yards plans to restore an iconic landmark gateway that will be a source of community identity and pride.
Most importantly they plan to expand the Ashland Avenue linchpin that binds together the social fabric of the North, South, East and West sides of Back of the Yards with local leadership and residents managing community space, owning the small businesses, and living in the new homes.
Now you might be wondering: What is Invest South/West?
What is INVEST South/West?
INVEST South/West is a ground-breaking project for community development that will pool the resources of numerous City departments, community organizations, business partners, and charitable donors to support 12 commercial corridors in 10 South and West Side community areas.
The effort includes assisting small businesses, enhancing the public space, repairing historic structures, and promoting equity and resilience where it is most needed. It will revitalize neighborhoods that are significant for pedestrian activity, shopping, services, transportation, public spaces, and other quality-of-life amenities.
So let’s get down into business. What will United Yards offer?
Parts of United Yards Development:
United Yards will have multi-story, mixed-use buildings for housing, retail, commerce, workforce development training, youth education, and after-school programs.
It has three components called United Yards IA, United Yards IB and United Yards IC.
United Yards IA
The first part of United Yards focuses on 47th Street. This is a walkable, active street bustling with pedestrian activity that is home to a diverse array of mostly locally owned businesses and amenities.
Here a six-story midrise building with 50 residential units—28 one-bedroom, 12 two-bedroom, and 10 three-bedroom apartments—will rise at Justine and 47th and two three-flat buildings at Marshfield and 47th. This is for households earning 60% AMI.
Residents will have access to 19 parking spaces on the first floor.
The Justine building features the Opportunity Hub, a 6,000-square-foot space bringing early exposure, skills development, living wage job placement, and entrepreneurship support programming to the community.
The buildings’ design will primarily consist of a brick and corrugated panel exterior, staggered terraces, and a top-floor roof deck.
It will have on-site power generation to offset energy costs and public utility consumption.
This part of the project will cost around $19.8 million.
United Yards IB
The second part of United Yards consists of retail and commercial development covering over 30,000 square feet.
The project will be centered in the ground floor space of the historic Goldblatts building at 47th and Ashland with a new brewery facility to be built at Marshfield and 47th.
Here residents can enjoy and support five to seven locally-owned small businesses as a part of Back of the Yards Works.
The historic Goldblatts building, built by renowned Chicago architect Alfred S. Alschuler, currently houses over 100 assisted living units. There will also be a brand-new geriatric clinic, a dialysis center, and a blade sign for the new property.
United Yards IC
United Yards IC is based within the “Rainbow Building” at 47th and Ashland.
The current Depositor's Bank Building is most known for its sizable Rainbow clothes store on the first floor.
The nearly 40,000-square-foot building, which was constructed in 1912, would be renovated with its original exterior, including opening the windows on the higher floors, 30 new senior housing units, a new front for Rainbow, and a coffee shop from the Back Of The Yards Works.
Then in S Marshfield Avenue and 1641 W 47th Street, the cul-de-sac segment of Marshfield would become a small park with space for neighborhood events. A parking lot next to it will have two prefabricated three-flats that have been constructed but have not yet been installed.
Benefits of United Yards Development
United Yards is a “catalytic” investment that will reap a lot of benefits for the Back of the Yards community for many generations.
It plans to restore and renew Back of the Yards with local leadership and residents managing community space, owning small businesses, and living in the new homes.
100 percent of the businesses involved in the project are locally owned
In this development, local businesses will be given the opportunity to cultivate their businesses and gain more customers and investors.
This includes Back of the Yards Coffee Co., Sugarberry Bakery, La Selva T-shirt shop, and Somos Monos brewing company.
Even the developers are all based in Chicago and are long-known in the community.
Sustainable business practices
United Yards seeks to promote sustainable practices in order to produce top-notch services and products while following a circular economy model.
Back of the Yards Works principal Jesse Iñiguez said, “We’re intentional in how everything is being used and recycled. And the importance of this is not just for what we’re gonna do here in the community, but it’s also providing an example of what businesses can do. … We want to show that there is an alternative, that it’s still profitable, that it also gives back and it’s not greedy.”
The United Yards team aims to move forward with the project by the end of 2023. They regularly host community meetings in the Back of the Yards community in coordination with the 20th Ward office and the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development. Throughout the process, they have included community feedback on the programming, design, affordability, and tenancy of the properties. So this project will truly reflect the needs and desires of the community.
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