Ideas from the North Lawndale Neighborhood Start Fund

Neighborhood Start Fund was founded by Lupe Fiasco and Di-Ann Eisnor to turn ideas into start-ups.  We need more diverse entrepreneurs bringing fresh ideas and new innovations to life.

So, they created a neighborhood-specific fund to support entrepreneurs and start-ups from underserved areas and of course so the best new ideas won’t go wasted. They provide access, network, workshops, mentoring and of course funding. Learn more here 

While the application is closed for North Lawndale entrepreneurs at this time, the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council would like to highlight the ideas that were presented by budding North Lawndale entrepreneurs.  We are showcasing below a Power Point presentation that was presented by the team of Thom Alcazar, Bob Shaunnessey and Eric Pettersen with their funding application.  Thom is a member of NLCCC.

If you, or anyone you know, has presented an idea for submission to the Neighborhood Start Fund, please feel free to contact Valerie F. Leonard at, to have your idea posted on this blog.  We are presenting these ideas to show other North Lawndale residents what is possible.  We have used a photo from the Neighborhood Start Fund website to emphasize that point.  Enjoy!

Looking for Blog Content

We are in the process of moving our website closer to being a bona fide North Lawndale portal. In so doing, we ask that you do one or as many of the following as you can:

1. Provide a link to you organization’s website and/or the RSS feed of your organization’s website.  
2. Write an article on a timely topic in your particular nonprofit sector or field. (You may submit as many as you’d like, as often as you’d like). We’d like to showcase our members’ expertise. Your stories should include a headshot of you, a two-line bio and a picture depicting the topic about which you’re writing.
3. Provide stories about the latest developments within your organizations-the type that you would include in your organization’s newsletter.
Thanks for your consideration. We are looking forward to hearing from you soon.  

NLCCC in the News As of September 12, 2016

The North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council is very fortunate to have had significant media coverage of our meetings and events in recent months.  We thank the Austin Weekly News, Chicago Reader, Chicago Streets Blog, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Chicago Citizen, WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times for the coverage. Outlined below are articles that have been generated as a result of our events.

Arts and Culture and Parks Recreation and Open Space

Alderman To Pitch Music Venue In Douglas Park

What The ‘West Side Ravinia’ Douglas Park Music Venue Could Look Like

West Side residents wary of ‘Ravinia-style’ venue in Douglas Park

Arts and Culture

North Lawndale Art Festival showcases local talent


North Lawndale residents say restoring Ogden bus service would improve job access

North Lawndale Residents: Restoring Ogden Bus Would Improve Job Access

Transit Advocate: TOD Could Revitalize Area Around the 95th Red Line Stop

North Lawndale focuses on transportation upgrades (from the Active Transit Alliance Updates)


 Revitalization Plans for North Lawndale Are Underway

Dear developer: An open letter from 3 North Lawndale residents

North Lawndale Quality of Life Planning 2.0

It gives us great pleasure to announce that New Covenant CDC and NLCCC have been selected to receive LISC funds to facilitate an updated Quality of Life Plan for North Lawndale. This represents the first time a community will be coordinating a CMAP comprehensive plan and LISC Quality of Life Plan simultaneously. This will strengthen our planning process by helping us to better address capacity issues and provide more focus on those areas that the CMAP comprehensive plan provides a very light touch.

As a result of the QLP, we will be able to focus more attention on public safety, education, arts and culture and parks, recreation and open space than we would have without the LISC funds.

The end result will be what we know in our hearts will be THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN produced by local residents of a Chicago Community. We thank Lawndale Christian Development Corporation for blazing the trail for us back in 2005. We thank LISC and look forward to taking our planning process to the next level.

This is the first time we have had a planning process to impact the entire North Lawndale community in 58 years. In order to make this a more meaningful process, we really, really, really need your help taking the plan to the people and getting as much input as we can in the next phases of the plan. If you are willing to go canvassing, host a meeting, make announcements at churches and community meetings, please let us know. Some of you have shared your availability, but we need a critical mass to make an impact and maintain safety as we take to the streets.

Come, Hear Alderman Michael Scott’s Vision for the Proposed Douglas Park Music Venue

Reminder: The Parks, Recreation and Open Space and Arts and Culture subcommittees will host a public meeting in which Alderman Scott can present his vision of a proposed music venue in Douglas Park. The meeting will be held on September 7, 2016 at 6:00 pm at the Douglas Park Cultural Center (Field House), 1401 South Sacramento. Please come prepared to listen and ask questions and provide your thoughts in an open forum. We have provided links to recent articles to provide you with background information.

Douglas Park may take swing at outdoor concert venue to replace golf course

Is Emanuel behind Ravinia-style music venue in Douglas Park?

Why A West Side Ravinia Would Be Great For Douglas Park: Ald. Scott’s Case

City parks and the sweet sound of silence

NLCCC in the Media: Involve Community Residents in the Development of Roosevelt and Kostner

We thank those of you who have taken the time to comment on the Crain’s letter regarding the proposed development on Kostner and Roosevelt. Your comments are insightful and, it gave us pleasure to see the love and support from you. Some of you were not able to read the letter because you don’t have a subscription.  Here is the text to the letter we shared.

August 16, 2016

Last week, Crain’s Chicago Business wrote that the developer Clarius Partners had proposed an industrial development at the northeast corner of Roosevelt Road and Kildare Avenue that would total 320,000 square feet, including 61,000 square feet of retail space. The source was a report prepared for the Chicago Community Development Commission, which unanimously approved the sale of the 21-acre city-owned development site to Clarius.

As the North Lawndale Coordinating Council, we have an interest in this development. We’re a group of community leaders, business owners and elected officials who have long been working to improve the built environment in our neighborhood and to increase the capacity of local organizations to make a positive impact on the community.

It should be noted that North Lawndale has not had a comprehensive planning process in over 50 years, and this particular site has been the source of community angst for decades. The site was one of the illegal dumping sites associated with Operation Silver Shovel back in the 1990’s. Later on, a movie studio was proposed for the site, and then a major grocery store. Neither development came to fruition. Most recently, this site was selected for the UIC-North Lawndale Obama Presidential Library bid. When the site was not selected, the community was disappointed once again.

Such rejection hurts us more than most communities, since we have had very little success attracting large scale sustainable development that benefits local residents.

We’re cautiously optimistic that there is a proposal, and we’re eager to know more about it. Our council supports development that is consistent with our core values of transparency, accountability and sincere and authentic community engagement. We invite Clarius Partners to provide input into our comprehensive planning process currently under way. We urge them to share more details about their proposed development with the community in public settings and we demand that they are open to questions and input.

But there are conditions that any developer seeking support from our community should deliver upon—conditions that maximize opportunities for current residents and local business owners. This includes:

• adhering to an agreement to prioritize local hiring;

• taking advantage of tax credits for hiring ex-offenders and very low income people

• tapping into TIFWorks funding to train and hire local residents to work in the business concerns that will be developed there

• helping these local businesses take advantage of federal HUB Zone certifications

• putting legally-binding mechanisms in place so that local residents, minority contractors, women-owned businesses and other disadvantaged businesses get a chunk of the contracting opportunities.

We don’t just want promises. We ask that Clarius track progress towards these goals and share updates with the community from time to time. In fact, we’d be more than happy to provide links to these reports on the NLCCC website (

In closing, we look forward to a development process that is transparent, inclusive and impactful to the North Lawndale community.


Members of the NLCCC Executive Subcommittee:

Valerie F. Leonard,
Rodney Brown,
Dennis Deer,

Chicago Department of Planning and Development Staff Report Regarding Roosevelt and Kostner

Clarius Partners proposes to purchase the Roosevelt and Kostner site from the City of Chicago, in the event there is no responsive alternative bidder.  A public meeting was held by the Community Development Commission on Tuesday, August 9, 2016. Embedded below are a copy of the Power Point presentation and the response to our FOIA request.

North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council Remarks on the Proposed Sale of the Roosevelt and Kostner Site

The City of Chicago proposes to sell the site of Roosevelt and Kostner to Clarius Partners, LLC. Some of you may recall this was the site on which the North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee and UIC proposed that the Obama Presidential Library be built. At any rate, there was a public meeting of the Community Development Commission on Tuesday to discuss the matter. Clarius proposes to purchase the site for a combination of industrial and commercial use, the development of which will, hopefully, be completed in 3 phases over 4 years. This is a speculative deal and no tenants have entered into any leases.  While the land is in the Roosevet/Cicero TIF, no TIF funds will be used at this time.  Proceeds of the sale of the land will go into the TIF, and TIFWorks funds will be used to train workers for jobs that will be created as a result of the new development.

Crain’s Chicago Business ran an article the following day. We have submitted a request for further documentation under the Freedom of Information Act to get a copy of the developers presentation, staff report and other information that may be helpful to better understand the transaction and potential opportunities for community involvement. The developer will be present at the next Alderman’s meeting (August 25th at 6:00 at United Baptist Church, 4242 West Roosevelt) and the Westside Music Festival (Douglas Park August 20, 12 noon-9 pm, 1401 South Sacramento. They will more than likely be there early on in the program, around noon or so).  Clarius will do a series of presentations to community groups, and we (NLCCC) have indicated a desire to host a public meeting so that residents may ask questions and voice concerns.   We will keep you informed as we learn more.  In the meantime, we have attached a copy of the NLCCC remarks regarding the proposed land sale.

The meeting was well attended, considering short notice. (We learned of the meeting Monday afternoon, and shared information as soon as we got it.)  There were at least 30 people from North Lawndale, in our estimation.  Most people were supportive of the transaction, particularly given the fact that the land has been vacant over 30 years.  The major concerns include the fact that the developer has no women or minorities on staff; there are no apparent targets or guidelines for minority contracting and hiring; a desire for the community to have been better informed earlier; a need for better understanding of how the developer would follow through on local hiring; the difficulty in knowing what jobs to train people for, given the fact that it is not clear what tenants will occupy the space; the fact that the developer indicated they will come back to the community when the deal is “feasible”, versus ongoingly to get input into the project scope; desire for local hiring and construction contracting opportunities and questions about how to enforce developer incentives tied to job creation, salary level and local hiring. 
I couldn’t type as fast as the presenters were speaking so I don’t have exact numbers and terms. The incentives are also focused on the 60624 zipcode and 8 surrounding zipcodes. The incentives are a sliding scale, and I don’t have specific zip codes. Rather than write anything inaccurate, I will wait for the staff report and/or presentation and share it with you.  Generally speaking, the developers will purchase the land up front and get rebates phased in over time based on the degree to which they adhere to the hiring benchmarks.  The rebates will be passed through to the tenants.
Overall, this could be a great opportunity for the community, provided the developer and tenants adhere to local targets and folks from 60624 and 60623 are adequately represented in the labor force. It is very important that the community be proactive, and work with the developers to create win-win strategies for the community, developer, the tenants and the City of Chicago.
Respectfully submitted,
Valerie F. Leonard

Westside Presidential Library Property for Sale: Attend CDC Tomorrow’s Community Development Commission Meeting‏

The Community Development Commission will be holding its monthly meeting tomorrow, August 9, 2016 to discuss the proposed sale of the Roosevelt and Kostner site. (The site of the proposed Obama Presidential Library in North Lawndale.)  An agenda is embedded, and the meeting time and location are outlined below.  The interested purchaser is Clarius Partners, LLC, a full-service real estate investment and development firm. There will be an opportunity for public comment should you desire. PLEASE DISTRIBUTE THIS ANNOUNCEMENT WIDELY. This project could have a significant impact on the community and could anchor future development. Your assistance is most appreciated. 

121 North LaSalle Street
Council Chambers, Second Floor City Hall
Regular Meeting, 1:00 p.m.
August 9, 2016