Evolution of a New Cottage Grove Corridor Begins with the Grand Opening of Bronzeville’s First New Residential Retail Development in 50 Years

$46 Million ‘Shops and Lofts at 47’ Yields 96 Mixed-Income Rental Apartments and 55,000 square feet of Commercial Space Anchored by Walmart Neighborhood Market

CHICAGO, IL – In a broad showing of the tenacity that makes neighborhoods vital and sustainable, Mayor Rahm Emanuel today joined 4th Ward Alderman, William Burns, Bronzeville community leaders and project developers to celebrate the opening of Shops and Lofts at 47, a mixed-use complex with 55,000 square feet of ground floor retail, anchored by a Walmart Neighborhood Market and 72 rental apartments above. Situated at the corner of 47th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, Shops and Lofts at 47 is the first commercial/residential complex to be developed in Bronzeville in more than 50 years.

While ground was broken for Shops and Lofts little more than one year ago, the idea for creating a commercial/residential development to anchor and accelerate revitalization of Bronzeville emerged nearly a decade ago as part of a neighborhood renaissance plan created by then alderman Toni Preckwinkle and the Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC).

Speaking to the crowd of more than 100 Bronzeville residents, Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised the team behind the development of Shops and Lofts and the effort that turned the idea into a reality. “Creating and sustaining great neighborhoods only happens when you have strong leadership and a community willing to work together for a better future,” Mayor Emanuel said. “The Bronzeville revitalization is well underway, and it is projects like this Shops and Lofts that showcase how, when the public sector, private partners and residents work together, we can drive economic growth and create jobs in neighborhoods across the City of Chicago.”

Bernita Johnson-Gabriel, Executive Director of QCDC, remarks underscored the Mayor’s words as she recounted the journey from vision to realization.  “What you see here today is realization of a dream made possible through hard work and tenacity.  Not only that of QCDC, but the work of our partners Mahogany Ventures and The Community Builders. Together we fought for seven years to find financiers and retail stores that believed in our vision for Bronzeville’s future,” said Johnson-Gabriel. “However, once we found them, we hit the ground running completing the development only 18 months after breaking ground.”

The partnership team of which Gabriel-Johnson spoke is led by Mahogany Ventures, a joint-venture of the Skilken Company and TROY Development, both entities with long resumes of successful commercial development are responsible for the development and management of all Shops and Lofts retail space. To complete the team, Mahogany partnered with The Community Builders (TCB), one of the nation’s preeminent non-profit housing development entities, with a large footprint in Chicago, to develop and manage the 72 apartments above the retail space and another 24 units in three newly constructed low rise adjacent buildings.

Frank Petruziello, President of Skilken spoke of the challenges and benefits of working in Bronzeville. “Having partners like The Community Builders, Inc. visionaries like Quad Communities and the tremendous cooperation of the City’s elected leadership have made this a wonderful experience.  Bronzeville has gained a new, beautiful residential retail anchor. And we have gained lifelong friendships,” said Petruziello.

Bart Mitchell, President of The Community Builders emphasized the importance of the development to the entire community.  “We’ve worked for more than a decade in Bronzeville — with its great housing stock, schools, parks and boulevards. What was missing was a commercial center. Thanks to this development, there is now fresh food, a variety of retail service and new employment opportunities – the foundation of a strong community.” According to Mitchell, the development created 150 construction jobs and will support more than 100 full-time retail jobs.

Kaitlin Wolfe, Walmart’s Regional General Manager of small format stores for the Northeast Region spoke of the company’s experience in Chicago. “Chicago has been more than a wonderful new market for Walmart – it’s been a great new partner.  We provide the fresh food, variety of goods and jobs that people want and in turn, residents and the City have provided us with great support and patronage.  We are proud to be a part of Shops and Lofts”.

4th Ward Alderman Will Burns expressed the pride that was felt by many in the large crowd. “For much of the 20th Century 47th and Cottage Grove was the epicenter of a thriving African-American commercial district, serving communities to the north, south, east and west,” said  Burns.  “We are delighted to once again see it reemerge in its historic role.”