Public investment poised to redevelop Far South Side acreage

Far South Community Development Corporation to turn vacant property into housing, retail and parks

Nonprofit Poised To Revitalize Far South Side
Far South CDC’s Abraham Lacy with rendering of Morgan Park Commons (LinkedIn, Morgan Park Commons)

The Far South Side of Chicago is getting a major public investment to redevelop a vacant grocery store and the site of a razed strip mall. 

The nonprofit Far South Community Development Corporation is spearheading the 12-acre project, called Morgan Park Commons, which will transform the northwest corner of Halsted and 115th streets into apartments, retail, parks and a performing arts center, the Chicago Tribune reported. The full cost of the project wasn’t reported, but the first phase will be funded with $15 million from the state and federal low-income housing tax credits.

Originally home to a Jewel Food store and the Halsted Indoor Mall, the site has been vacant since 2008. The Jewel store relocated, and the mall was demolished in 2014.

The redevelopment follows Mayor Brandon Johnson’s proposal to acquire the site for temporary shelter for asylum seekers. The city ultimately purchased the 6.5-acre former grocery store for $1 million, but plans to use it as shelter were shelved. The property was transferred to Far South CDC, which already owned the other 6 acres.

Far South CDC, led by president Abraham Lacy, has been planning the redevelopment since 2018, shifting focus from purely commercial use to a mixed-use development that addresses the area’s need for housing.

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“This is almost the downtown of West Pullman and at a crucial intersection that ties together three neighborhoods, West Pullman, East Morgan Park and Roseland,” Lacy told the outlet. 

The project will start in the fall with the demolition of the former Jewel store and the installation of streets and underground utilities. The first phase calls for two four-story buildings featuring ground-floor retail with 84 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments above. Of the 84 units, at least 50 will be designated for low to moderate-income households. 

At full build, Morgan Park Commons will include 16,000 square feet of retail or office space, about 250 apartments, and a 13,000-square-foot performing arts and culinary center. It will yield more than a dozen buildings capped at three stories tall. A standout feature will be a 2.3-acre public park connecting to the Major Taylor Trail. 

Enhanced public transit will support the development, including the extension of the CTA Red Line and a Pace Pulse bus line. The developer and local officials hope the project will revitalize the community, reversing population decline while fostering economic growth. 

The project is expected to take seven or eight years to complete. 

—Quinn Donoghue

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