WIN: Laramie State Bank INVEST South/West Redevelopment Approved by City Council (Chicago 7 2019)

Laramie State Bank Building, 1929, Meyer & Cook, 5200 W. Chicago Avenue in Austin. Designated a Chicago Landmark in 1995. Rendering Credit: Latent Design

“A plan to redevelop the long-vacant Laramie State Bank is moving forward.

“The Chicago Plan Commission voted Thursday to approve a sweeping proposal to transform the historic bank building, 5200 W. Chicago Ave. into a museum, mixed-income housing, community plaza, business incubator and café. The proposal now will go to the City Council’s Committee on Zoning before a final vote from all 50 alderpeople.

“The $44.2 million redevelopment is part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Invest South/West initiative aimed at funneling public and private investment toward historically neglected neighborhoods. The plan by Oak Park Regional Housing and Heartland Alliance to overhaul the building was selected from a pool of seven developers vying to build on the site in March 2021.

“The nearly century-old bank has deteriorated heavily over the years and requires fixes to extensive water damage. The project will restore the building and preserve its historic Art Deco architecture, city officials said.

“The project is aimed at jumpstarting Austin’s local economy and building on the momentum of other economic opportunities and investments happening along Chicago Avenue, which neighborhood groups have rebranded as Soul City Corridor.

“The Laramie State Bank building has been vacant since it was foreclosed on in 2012. The redeveloped building still have a bank to improve access to financial services for residents in the areas as well as a café and an incubator to support emerging entrepreneurs and attract businesses to the corridor, officials said.

“A museum honoring the contributions of Chicago artists to blues music also will be launched inside the building, aligning with efforts to rebrand Chicago Avenue as Soul City Corridor by the Austin African American Business Network Association.

“Plans also include several lots surrounding the old bank building, which will be developed into 78 units of mixed-income housing. There will also be a courtyard between the bank building and the housing complex that will include a community plaza, gardens, and several public art installations, developers said.” (Sabino, Block Club Chicago, 6/16/22)

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 Laramie State 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 advocating for Laramie State Bank building for many years, but with more urgency since it became vacant after its 2012 foreclosure. It was a Chicago 7 Most Endangered in 2019. We have attended many building court hearings to provide support for the building. We been in regular communication with the owners and stakeholders with ties to the building, including the alderman and Cook County Land Bank. We have attempted to find private developers with an interest in tackling this restoration and reuse of this building. We’re thrilled the City has stepped forward. This is a outstanding outcome for the building.

Read the full story at Block Club Chicago

Austin’s Laramie State Bank Is Becoming A Museum. But First, It Needs Emergency Repairs To Fix Severe Water Damage; The building has rapidly deteriorated since it was foreclosed in 2012. In the coming years, it will be transformed into a museum, a business incubator and a café, Pascal Sabino, Block Club Chicago, 6/16/22

Austin’s Laramie State Bank Is Becoming A Museum. But First, It Needs Emergency Repairs To Fix Severe Water Damage; The building has rapidly deteriorated since it was foreclosed in 2012. In the coming years, it will be transformed into a museum, a business incubator and a café, Pascal Sabino, Block Club Chicago, 11/11/21

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