$58 Million Project Bringing Housing, Retail To Back Of The Yards Breaks Ground


BACK OF THE YARDS — Work has begun on a development that will bring dozens of affordable apartments, retail space, a federally qualified health care center and more to Back of the Yards.

Officials held a ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday for United Yards, a proposal from Celadon Partners and Blackwood Group to transform the lot at 1515 W. 47th St. The $58 million project spans three blocks and will have a particular focus on providing a home for and boosting local businesses.

The city chose United Yards for the Invest South/West project — but the developers then asked if they could partner with a competing proposal, Back of the Yards Works, which was focused on creating a space for small businesses with employee training.

Jesse Iñiguez, who pitched the Back of the Yards Works proposal, said at the groundbreaking it’s funny to think about his business opening soon on the first floor of the old Goldblatt’s building at 47th Street and Ashland Avenue — a place he shopped at as a kid growing up in the neighborhood.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would have a part in this and that we have ownership of this beautiful building,” he said. “The responsibility of doing right by the community, because of what the community has done for me, is exceptional.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club ChicagoBack of the Yards Coffee co-founder Jesse Íñiguez speaks during the groundbreaking of the Invest South/West development United Yards, in Back-of-the-Yards on March 14, 2023.

Construction of the project is being split into three phases, with the first two expected to conclude by the end of 2024.

The first phase includes revitalizing the Goldblatt’s building at the southwest corner of 47th Street and Ashland Avenue into a 15,000-square-foot, federally qualified health center and 7,200 square foot of locally owned retail space.

La Selva Apparel Company, Back of the Yards Coffeehouse, Aracely’s Bakery and Back of the Yards Barbershop will operate out of the Goldblatt’s building, project leaders said.

Another local business, Somos Monos Cerveceria, will open inside a 6,500-square-foot building at 1641 W. 47th St.

RELATED: Back Of The Yards Affordable Housing, Community Hub Will Bring More Local Businesses To 47th Street

The project’s second phase focuses on building affordable housing, with 51 apartments and a pair of three-flats at 1515 W. 47th St. and 4706-08 S. Marshfield Ave., respectively. There will also be a 7,000-square-foot technology training facility inside the 47th Street building.

The affordable apartments will be for people earning up to 60 percent of the area’s median income.

The old Rainbow building at 4701 S. Ashland Ave. will be converted into independent senior living apartments in the project’s third phase.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club ChicagoThe former Goldblatt Bros. building at 47th Street and Marshfield Avenue, which is part of the Invest South/West development United Yards, in Back-of-the-Yards on March 14, 2023.

The Chicago Department of Transportation will also kickstart $44 million in upgrades along Ashland Avenue from 43rd to 49th streets and along 47th Street between Loomis Street and Hoyne Avenue to make the area more pedestrian-friendly, city leaders said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the project will give an economic jumpstart to the business corridor.

“A crucial part of everything that we’re doing in Invest South/West is making sure these commercial corridors are inviting to residents, to customers, shoppers, so that we create the front doors to these neighborhoods with the community, but we do it by making sure that the surrounding streetscapes are as beautiful and representatives of the communities as possible,” Lightfoot said during the groundbreaking. 

A separate project nearby is in initial planning stages.

A proposed development at 4630 S. Ashland Ave. is slated to bring affordable housing, a federally qualified health care center, a performing arts center, headquarters for the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council and spaces for nonprofits Chicago Commons and Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation to the long-closed Aronson furniture store.

Developers are also pitching a branch of the Back of the Yards public library within the project, but neighbors remain split on the idea.

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March 16, 2023 at 05:39PM

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