Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot has announced 27 new Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF) grant finalists. A Greater Grand Crossing shared kitchen, a Calumet Heights dance studio, and a Humboldt Park juice bar are among the finalists. The overall grant value is greater than $10 million, and much of the money will be for construction.
“When we are purposeful about investing in the lives of our residents, our entire city thrives,” Lightfoot said in a July 12 statement. “Through this newest cohort of NOF finalists, we will not only be able to help more of our creatives and entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds gain the resources they need to make their dreams a reality, but also bring new socioeconomic catalysts to some of our most underserved communities. I want to congratulate each and every one of our 27 finalists and am beyond excited to see ground being broken and ribbons being cut to each of their projects in the coming months.”
Ranging from $49,000 to $1.7 million and collectively valued at approximately $10 million, the grants will support more than $20 million in retail improvements along commercial corridors on the South, West, and Southwest sides.
“One of the hardest parts of being an entrepreneur is securing financing for construction costs,” Department of Planning and Development (DPD) Commissioner Maurice Cox said. “These grants will help overcome those hurdles.”
The finalists were selected from a spring application period, the first of two submission rounds planned for 2021. A City of Chicago evaluation committee selected the finalists based on proposal completeness, viability, location, applicant experience, neighborhood needs, and other factors.
More than 75 percent of the finalists are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) businesses, with more than half located in commercial corridors targeted by Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West community revitalization initiative. Eighteen are food-related, four are retail-oriented, four provide services, and one is a cultural entity.
The NOF program uses proceeds from downtown construction projects to foster economic development along under-invested neighborhood streets. The program, created in 2016, has selected more than 250 grant projects to date.
Recent program improvements include an opportunity for up to 100 percent of a project’s cost to be covered by NOF grants. For the spring 2021 application period, more than 760 potential applicants completed an online readiness quiz to help assess the readiness of their business idea.
Finalists will also have access to a pre-qualified team of design professionals, as well as subcontracting and financing specialists that will help them complete their respective business plans, finalize work scopes, and move toward project completion. City Council approval is required for grants greater than $250,000.
New finalists include:
|Project||Address||Summary||Anticipated Award Amount||Year Awarded|
|Bitoy’s Sweet Treats||5957 W. Chicago Ave.||Renovation for existing sweet shop including new facade and windows||$248,820.00||2021|
|Blue Tin Productions||3055 W. 63rd St.||Storefront buildout for an apparel production workers co-operative||$250,000.00||2021|
|Burdeens Chicago||2139 W. Cermak Rd.||Renovation for a long-standing urban footwear and apparel store.||$250,000.00||2021|
|Carnitas Uruapan – Little Village||3801 W. 26th St.||Complete building rehabilitation for a third location of Carnitas Uruapan in Little Village||$250,000.00||2021|
|Chicago BodyShop||2049 E. 79th St.||Buildout for a new health and fitness center||$250,000.00||2021|
|Chicago Human Rhythm Project||8701 S. Bennett Ave.||Renovation of first and second floor for a new dance and music studio||$250,000.00||2021|
|ChiFresh Kitchen||2049 E. 79th St.||Storefront and facility buildout for a prepared meal business||$250,000.00||2021|
|Elia’s Mattress||1846 W. 47th St.||Expansion for an existing furniture and mattress store||$217,923.75||2021|
|Flyball||4404 S. Cottage Grove Ave.||Buildout for a new retail store specializing in Negro League Baseball Apparel||$166,100.00||2021|
|Jamaican Jerk Villa||632-654 W. 79th St.||Expansion into a larger location for existing Jamaican food restaurant||$250,000.00||2021|
|La Casa de Samuel||2836-38 W. Cermak Rd.||Mexican restaurant expansion into building next door||$160,050.00||2021|
|Mikkey’s Retro Grill||839 W. 79th St.||Renovation for a new location of fast casual restaurant||$171,637.54||2021|
|Naty’s Pizza||3849 W. 26th St.||Improvements including facade work for an existing pizza shop||$90,213.75||2021|
|Ninety Two Sneakers & Apparel||4717 S. Ashland Ave.||Renovation project for long-standing sneaker and apparel shop||$28,050.00||2021|
|Nuevo Leon Bakery||4062 W. 26th St.||Remodel of an existing neighborhood bakery||$59,516.00||2021|
|Pop That Pop on the Grove||4424 S. Cottage Grove Ave.||Interior buildout for a new gourmet popcorn shop||$81,598.50||2021|
|Reggio’s Pizza||4438 S. Cottage Grove Ave.||New location interior buildout for existing pizza shop||$250,000.00||2021|
|Restaurant Las Esperanzas||1758 W. 47th St.||Exterior work and new patio for existing Mexican restaurant||$49,500.00||2021|
|Rincon Family Services||3944 W. North Ave.||Renovation for a new neighborhood cafe||$177,075.00||2021|
|SanJustins Kitchen||157 W. 75th St.||Expansion of existing shared kitchen to create four new kitchen areas||$250,000.00||2021|
|Stephens Properties||1519 W. 79th St.||Buildout for a salon suites and tax service businesses||$250,000.00||2021|
|Taqueria Huentitan||4019 W. North Ave.||Update and renovation to an existing Mexican restaurant||$81,675.00||2021|
|Turkey Chop||2911 E. 79th St.||Buildout for a new restaurant and catering service focused on healthy alternative to soul food||$166,971.96||2021|
|Urban Luxe Cafe||2139 W. Cermak Rd.||Interior and exterior renovation for a new neighborhood cafe||$154,200.00||2021|