Today, the City of Chicago and Mayor Lori Lightfoot broke ground on a mixed-use, community-focused development as a part of the Invest South/West initiative in Englewood. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) with TnS Studio as the interior designer, lead developer McLaurin Development Partners, and Farpoint Development, Englewood Connect will expand upon recent neighborhood investments by providing community resources and infrastructure that supports local commerce and culinary programs. The first part of the multi-phase plan includes the renovation of a historic Chicago firehouse, a newly-constructed community space, and multiple site improvements that aim to promote greater connectivity and pedestrian access across the site.
Regular meetings and events in Englewood with the local community created a space for listening and shared ideas from many. The feedback and inspiration from the local residents led us to envision a site that celebrates the historic fire house in a new way, and provides a framework for expansion with public amenities that will serve the neighborhood for years to come.
Positioned on the Halsted Ave corridor, Englewood Connect is located on a two-acre site, blocks away from the Racine Green Line CTA station. Its adjacency to Kennedy King College, St. Bernard Hospital, State of Illinois DCFS offices and nearby residential areas make it an ideal location to serve the neighborhood. In designing the project, the team led comprehensive public engagement sessions in collaboration with Alderman Stephanie Coleman, including community roundtables, walking tours, and pop-up events. The process led to a program focused on economic advancement of neighborhood residents over the long term, with resources for education, entrepreneurship, commerce and leisure.
As a part of the project, a vacant landmark known as the “castle” firehouse station will be renovated and reinterpreted as a culinary center with multi-use spaces for the community. The 1929, Tudor-style historic structure will be fully restored, preserving its glazed brick interiors and stone fireplace. Outfitted with a commercial kitchen on the ground floor, the surrounding spaces are designed for flexibility, to accommodate a wide range of events and activities. The adaptive reuse of the facility aims to ensure the preservation of the building for the next century, and celebrate its historic and cultural ties to the surrounding community.
Facing the fire station will be the ‘Englewood Living Room,’ a pavilion that relates in height and scale to the historic building. With operable doors and windows it will be open to the public year-round, providing an iconic destination for large-scale events and activities. It is envisioned as a space for community-led markets, co-working, exhibitions, and where the community can gather and engage. The building will follow the design ethos of the entire site, employing materials that consider performance, efficiency, sustainability and maintenance.
Future phases of the project include a business incubator, a market hall, hoop houses for urban farming and multiple public exterior spaces—all part of a comprehensive master plan focused around food and connections to existing infrastructure.
Our development platform is built with a laser focus on community vitality, identifying and helping local businesses grow while leveraging strategic partnerships with large institutions; INVEST South/West is the perfect toolbox to corral resources and implement a sustainable economic development approach across all of Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Project collaborators include Omni Ecosystems, dbHMS, Engage Civil Engineering, Bowa Construction, Rubinos & Mesia Engineers, Inc., Gwen Grossman Lighting Design, Environmental Design International, Environmental Protection Industries, Neal and Leroy, TriMark Chicago, Chef David Blackmon, Chicago Community Trust, Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation and Alderman Stephanie Coleman.