The Cook County Land Bank Authority (the Land Bank) has issued a Request For Proposal (RFP) that calls for the renovation of the 94-year-old Washington Park National Bank Building located on the corner of 63rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. The Land Bank has set a number of guidelines and proposals are being accepted from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31 with a decision being made by Dec. 13.
The once thriving 35,000-square-foot historical bank has been vacant for more than two decades and the Land Bank believes that once transformed, the building will become an anchor for further development of the Woodlawn neighborhood.
“Restoring the Bank Building will have an immediate impact on the area. The building will provide needed services to the area including, but not limited to, banking, community space, business incubation, café, medical offices, non-profit space, and local retail.
There is also a psychological lift for the neighborhood with having a long-term vacant building being used again,” said Rob Rose, executive director of the Cook County Land Bank Authority.
To help guide the future redevelopment of the 63rd Street corridor the Land Bank, in collaboration with the community and the Metropolitan Planning Council, has established 10 primary objectives and parameters for the project. A few of the established parameters include creating a mixed-use design for the building, including a signature marquee to serve as a the gateway to Woodlawn, establish a pedestrian-friendly environment, and requiring the inclusion of Woodlawn residents as suppliers, professional service providers, and construction trades, according to a press release from the Land Bank.
Since 2013, the Land Bank has been working to empower local developers, community groups, and potential homeowners by giving them tools to transform their own communities from within. The Land Bank acquires properties that have sat tax-delinquent and vacant for years in order to sell them at below-market rates to qualified community-based developers, who then rehab the homes.
“The Land Bank’s mission is to acquire abandoned, vacant and blighted properties and get them back to productive use. The Bank Building is the most visible blighted building in Woodlawn so it was identified as a project. Woodlawn is experiencing a rebirth and restoring this building aids those efforts,” said Rose.
The Land Bank worked hard to make sure that the Woodlawn community was involved in creating the RFP for the Washington Park National Bank Building and Rose said that the design must compliment and respect the neighborhood aesthetic.
“It’s not my place to say what is the best design; this is one of the reasons for the Request For Proposals, which was drafted with significant community input,” said Rose. “The design elements should address energy efficiency, high air quality, stormwater management, good lighting, and walkability.”
For more information about the RFP visit www.cookcountylandbank.org/resources/bid-documents