WIN: City of Chicago Approves Development Proposal which includes Renovation of Landmark Pioneer Bank

Pioneer Trust and Savings Bank Building, 1924, Karl M. Vitzthum, 4000 W. North Ave. Designated a Chicago Landmark in 2012. Photo Credit: City of Chicago
Redevelopment plan by Team Pioneros for Pioneer Bank and adjacent land. Rendering Credit: Team Pioneros / JGMA
Redevelopment plan by Team Pioneros for Pioneer Bank and adjacent land. Rendering Credit: Team Pioneros / JGMA

“City officials today announced the winning bidders poised to develop a trio of mixed-use projects in the neighborhoods totaling $126 million. It’s the third batch of developments chosen by the city’s Planning Department under Lightfoot’s two-year-old program to steer $750 million in public funding and resources into 10 designated South and West Side neighborhoods.

“A lack of financial backing has historically hamstrung projects like those selected as part of Invest South/West, given investors’ reticence to plow money into neighborhoods suffering from population loss, poverty, inadequate housing and fleeting retailers. The city has lined up a menu of options to help grease the skids for Invest South/West projects, including tax-increment financing, public funds for small business grants and other sweeteners to help get developers to complete projects.

“Planning Commissioner Maurice Cox said he’s been pleased with the ‘pipeline” of projects lined up through Invest South/West, but “now our challenge is to get these projects ready,” he said.

“‘I think we’ve turned a corner on people’s question of, ‘If you solicit equitable development (in blighted neighborhoods), will they come?’ The answer is they will come, and I think it’s a new day for development on the South and West sides,’ Cox said. ‘We’re trying to build the rooftops to support the locally serving retail that we’re anchoring on the corridor,’ he said.

“A group led by Chicago-based Park Row Development and JGMA Architects is behind ‘Team Pioneros,’ which plans to renovate the landmark Pioneer Bank building at North Avenue and Pulaski Road to include an entrepreneurial incubator space, a Latino cultural center and office space for JGMA.

“A parking lot immediately north of the building would be developed with the site’s most striking feature: A nine-story, 75-unit apartment building made up entirely of affordable units, offices for Humboldt Park Family Health and a potential Chicago Public Library branch.

“The site is eligible for tax increment financing funding, and a developer could receive New Markets Tax Credits and historic tax credits related to the Pioneer Bank building. The full project is estimated to cost $53.9 million, which would be the most expensive project selected so far from Invest South/West RFPs.” (Ecker, Crain’s Chicago Business, 11/18/21)

Preservation Chicago strongly supports the City of Chicago’s Invest South/West program which has proactively identified architecturally significant buildings located in communities of disinvestment. The program focuses the resources of the City of Chicago to stabilize communities and promote healthy communities by leveraging the power of historic preservation.

The final plans should include preservation and restoration of the interior main great lobby hall of the Pioneer Bank. It would be great to see a community or cultural use such as a library in this wonderful space.

This is an ideal development project for INVEST South/West and we strongly applaud Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Department of Planning and Development Commissioner Maurice Cox for selecting Pioneer Bank for the program. We recognize and applaud their strong leadership in ensuring a outstanding outcome for the building and community, and their commitment and efforts to strongly reinvest in Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Preservation Chicago has been concerned about the cluster of historic buildings at the intersection of North Avenue and Pulaski for many years including the Pioneer Bank at 4000 W. North Avenue, the Pioneer Arcade at 1535 N. Pulaski Road, and the New Apollo Theater at 1536 N. Pulaski Road. All three architecturally significant buildings have suffered from deferred maintenance and long periods of vacancy.

Despite its lengthy vacancy, the Pioneer Bank was not included as a Chicago 7 Most Endangered because it was protected by a Chicago Landmark Designation. Neither the Pioneer Arcade nor the New Apollo Theater are landmarked and are at significant risk of demolition.

We hope the successful adaptive reuse of the Pioneer Bank is followed by successful renovation and landmarking of the Pioneer Arcade and New Apollo Theater. The Pioneer Arcade was designed by architect Jens J. Jensen in 1925 and was a Chicago 7 Most Endangered in 2015. The Pioneer Arcade’s façade is one of Chicago’s best examples of 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture with exuberant terra cotta work that rivals of some of Chicago’s finest 1920s movie palaces. The New Apollo Theater was designed by architect William A. Bennett in 1914 and was also a Chicago 7 Most Endangered in 2015.

Read the full story at Crain’s Chicago Business

City taps developers for Humboldt Park, South Shore projects; The latest batch of Invest South/West proposals pushes the program over $300 million in development plans in blighted corridors, Danny Ecker, Crain’s Chicago Business, 11/18/21

Chicago plans $126 million in Invest South/West developments including renovation of landmark Pioneer Bank building in Humboldt Park, Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune, 11/18/21

Team Pioneros Website


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