27 Neighborhood Opportunity Fund finalists receive more than $10 million for construction projects

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Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot has announced 27 new Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF) grant finalists. A Greater Grand Crossing shared kitchen, a Calumet Heights dance studio, and a Humboldt Park juice bar are among the finalists. The overall grant value is greater than $10 million, and much of the money will be for construction.

“When we are purposeful about investing in the lives of our residents, our entire city thrives,” Lightfoot said in a July 12 statement. “Through this newest cohort of NOF finalists, we will not only be able to help more of our creatives and entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds gain the resources they need to make their dreams a reality, but also bring new socioeconomic catalysts to some of our most underserved communities. I want to congratulate each and every one of our 27 finalists and am beyond excited to see ground being broken and ribbons being cut to each of their projects in the coming months.”

Ranging from $49,000 to $1.7 million and collectively valued at approximately $10 million, the grants will support more than $20 million in retail improvements along commercial corridors on the South, West, and Southwest sides.

“One of the hardest parts of being an entrepreneur is securing financing for construction costs,” Department of Planning and Development (DPD) Commissioner Maurice Cox said. “These grants will help overcome those hurdles.”

The finalists were selected from a spring application period, the first of two submission rounds planned for 2021. A City of Chicago evaluation committee selected the finalists based on proposal completeness, viability, location, applicant experience, neighborhood needs, and other factors.

More than 75 percent of the finalists are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) businesses, with more than half located in commercial corridors targeted by Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West community revitalization initiative. Eighteen are food-related, four are retail-oriented, four provide services, and one is a cultural entity.

The NOF program uses proceeds from downtown construction projects to foster economic development along under-invested neighborhood streets. The program, created in 2016, has selected more than 250 grant projects to date.

Recent program improvements include an opportunity for up to 100 percent of a project’s cost to be covered by NOF grants. For the spring 2021 application period, more than 760 potential applicants completed an online readiness quiz to help assess the readiness of their business idea.

Finalists will also have access to a pre-qualified team of design professionals, as well as subcontracting and financing specialists that will help them complete their respective business plans, finalize work scopes, and move toward project completion. City Council approval is required for grants greater than $250,000.

New finalists include:

Project Address Summary Anticipated Award Amount Year Awarded
Bitoy’s Sweet Treats 5957 W. Chicago Ave. Renovation for existing sweet shop including new facade and windows $248,820.00 2021
Blue Tin Productions 3055 W. 63rd St. Storefront buildout for an apparel production workers co-operative $250,000.00 2021
Burdeens Chicago 2139 W. Cermak Rd. Renovation for a long-standing urban footwear and apparel store. $250,000.00 2021
Carnitas Uruapan – Little Village 3801 W. 26th St. Complete building rehabilitation for a third location of Carnitas Uruapan in Little Village $250,000.00 2021
Chicago BodyShop 2049 E. 79th St. Buildout for a new health and fitness center $250,000.00 2021
Chicago Human Rhythm Project 8701 S. Bennett Ave. Renovation of first and second floor for a new dance and music studio $250,000.00 2021
ChiFresh Kitchen 2049 E. 79th St. Storefront and facility buildout for a prepared meal business $250,000.00 2021
Elia’s Mattress 1846 W. 47th St. Expansion for an existing furniture and mattress store $217,923.75 2021
Flyball 4404 S. Cottage Grove Ave. Buildout for a new retail store specializing in Negro League Baseball Apparel $166,100.00 2021
Jamaican Jerk Villa 632-654 W. 79th St. Expansion into a larger location for existing Jamaican food restaurant $250,000.00 2021
La Casa de Samuel 2836-38 W. Cermak Rd. Mexican restaurant expansion into building next door $160,050.00 2021
Mikkey’s Retro Grill 839 W. 79th St. Renovation for a new location of fast casual restaurant  $171,637.54 2021
Naty’s Pizza 3849 W. 26th St. Improvements including facade work for an existing pizza shop  $90,213.75 2021
Ninety Two Sneakers & Apparel 4717 S. Ashland Ave. Renovation project for long-standing sneaker and apparel shop  $28,050.00 2021
Nuevo Leon Bakery 4062 W. 26th St. Remodel of an existing neighborhood bakery  $59,516.00 2021
Pop That Pop on the Grove 4424 S. Cottage Grove Ave. Interior buildout for a new gourmet popcorn shop  $81,598.50 2021
Reggio’s Pizza 4438 S. Cottage Grove Ave. New location interior buildout for existing pizza shop $250,000.00 2021
Restaurant Las Esperanzas 1758 W. 47th St. Exterior work and new patio for existing Mexican restaurant  $49,500.00 2021
Rincon Family Services 3944 W. North Ave. Renovation for a new neighborhood cafe $177,075.00 2021
SanJustins Kitchen 157 W. 75th St. Expansion of existing shared kitchen to create four new kitchen areas $250,000.00 2021
Stephens Properties 1519 W. 79th St. Buildout for a salon suites and tax service businesses $250,000.00 2021
Taqueria Huentitan 4019 W. North Ave. Update and renovation to an existing Mexican restaurant $81,675.00 2021
Turkey Chop 2911 E. 79th St. Buildout for a new restaurant and catering service focused on healthy alternative to soul food $166,971.96 2021
Urban Luxe Cafe 2139 W. Cermak Rd. Interior and exterior renovation for a new neighborhood cafe $154,200.00 2021


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