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CHICAGO — The latest INVEST South/West project groundbreaking took place in Englewood Tuesday morning.

The initiative is considered Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s signature community effort and is taking aim at 12 commercial corridors in 10 neighborhoods across the city’s South and West sides.

Tuesday’s celebration centered around a project dubbed Englewood Connect. Design company Skidmore, Owings & Merrill describe the creation as:

“A local commerce and culinary ecosystem, greater connectivity and pedestrian access, and flexible public spaces. The project is designed to improve the quality of life for  Englewood residents through a mixed-use, phased development strategy focused around a flexible public space called the Green Street Commons. 

A proposed pavilion known as the Englewood Living Room will be open year-round, allowing for markets, co-working spaces, exhibitions, and community gathering areas. Sustainable design elements include permeable surfaces, repurposed construction materials, and creative uses of rainwater for urban agriculture and landscaping.”

Lightfoot first announced her initiative when she took office in 2019 as a way to revive some of the city’s struggling neighborhoods. The goal was to combine the resources of city departments with community and corporate partnerships.

The first three approved projects were announced in March 2021 and included the apartments in Auburn Gresham. The other two winning proposals plan to rehab the historic Laramie Bank Building in the Austin neighborhood, and an eco-food hub in the Englewood neighborhood.

In addition to the Auburn Gresham, Austin, and Englewood neighborhoods, INVEST South/West aims to bring revitalization to the Bronzeville, New City, North Lawndale, Humboldt Park, Greater Roseland, South Chicago, and South Shore neighborhoods.