The Cook County Land Bank Authority has issued a request for proposals regarding the 94-year-old Washington Park National Bank Building located at the corner of 63rd Street and Cottage Grove in Chicago. The once-thriving, 35,000-square-foot historic bank has sat vacant for more than two decades.
In partnership with the Metropolitan Planning Council, the Land Bank facilitated a community-led process to help construct the requirements of the RFP. Resident input calls for the renovated property to become a “signature marquee” of the Woodlawn community, including retail shops, commercial offices and medical facilities. The winning bid will use modern, exciting architecture and design while remaining respectful to the storied nature of the building and community in general.
The Land Bank hopes that changes to the property, designed by architect Albert Schwartz and sited next to the CTA’s Cottage Grove Green Line stop, will maximize the economic, social, historic and ecological values of the property. Improvements should supplement the offerings through new market rate development, act as a jobs generator and establish an accessible, pedestrian-friendly environment that can serve the growing elderly population.
In an effort to directly engage the Woodlawn community and transform the space into a vibrant anchor for the neighborhood, the Land Bank held three meetings that were open to the public this year. Many local residents who attended showed support for transforming the structure into a mix of entertainment, office and business incubator space. The requests shaped the nature of the RFP and will guide the Land Bank through its selection process.
Founded in 2013, the Land Bank works to empower local developers, community groups and potential homeowners by giving them tools to transform their own communities from within. The Land Bank acquires properties that have sat tax-delinquent, abandoned and vacant for years in order to sell them at below-market rates to qualified, community-based developers, who then rehab the homes. The developers then sell these affordable homes to homebuyers, putting once-vacant properties back onto the tax rolls.