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CHICAGO-The city hopes to find a developer willing to rehab the historic Supreme Life Insurance building as well as five neighboring townhouses, converting the properties to retail and office use. The planning and development department already has held pre-bid conferences and has set a Dec. 19 deadline for proposals.

The site is the southeast corner of 35th Street and King Drive in the Bronzeville neighborhood. The two-story, 22,692-sf L_shaped Supreme Life Insurance building is zoned for business use while the townhouses, all vacant and ranging from 2,250 sf to 4,000 sf, are in a residential zone. Besides capitalizing on a location in the Bronzeville Tax Increment Financing District, the developer will be able to tap $1 million in financial assistance toward their redevelopment costs because the property also is in an Empowerment Zone.

The developer will be required to restore the buildings’ 80-year-old facades. City planners also are discouraging taverns and liquor stores, convenience stores, currency exchanges, warehouses or storage facilities in developers’ plans.

Founded in 1919, Supreme Life was the first African-American owned and operated insurance company in the northern US. It moved into the second floor of 3501 S. King Dr. in 1921. The company survived the Depression and modernized the building in 1950.

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