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CHICAGO-The South Side could get its first “transit-oriented development” if the city can enlist someone to build a high-density, pedestrian-oriented mixed-use project at 103rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. The community development commission recently allowed the department of planning and development to issue a request for proposals for a 34,000-sf site, even though it remains in private hands.

Although the city will encourage developers to acquire a former auto repair shop and four adjacent vacant lots through private negotiations, it will have the authority to use eminent domain, then resell the property to a developer for the acquisition costs. Those costs are estimated at $235,000, Forte says.

“The site is a prime location for a mixed-use development,” says Karen Forte of the department of planning and development. The North Pullman site is across the street from a Metra commuter rail station, used by 100 riders a day, as well as on two Chicago Transit Authority bus lines.

The city is not offering tax increment financing or a land write-down, Forte says, but offers programs that could give the developer access to a pool of ready of homebuyers. With multifamily units on the upper floors, city officials envision a project including retail uses such as a coffeehouse, florist, deli, medical offices, bank branch or offices on the ground floor.

The owner of the former auto repair shop has had his property on the market, is interested in redeveloping the site, but needs a partner, Forte says. The property is zoned B3-2 for community shopping, which would allow for building up to 75,000 sf.

The request for proposals is the third in Alderman Anthony Beale’s 9th Ward. Earlier this fall, the department of planning and development put out calls for townhouse and multifamily developers to build rooftops on 27 lots in the 10400 and 10500 blocks of S. Corliss and Maryland avenues. This summer, it offered five acres at 115th Street and Michigan Avenue for someone willing to build a 60,000-sf grocery store.

“We continue to set the stage on the far South Side with something creative,” says Beale, adding North Pullman has been more neglected than South Pullman. “There’s a disparity between the two districts.”

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