Leon Walker, managing partner of DL3 Realty Predicts the Ripple Effect for Englewood
The opening of Whole Foods in the new Englewood Square retail mall at the historic 63rd and Halsted Street site marks a return of investment to Englewood and the revitalization of an area once known as Chicago’s busiest commerce center outside of the Loop.
“Commercial investment is the lifeblood of any community, no matter where it’s located,” says Leon Walker, managing partner of DL3 Realty, Englewood Square’s developer. “Whole Foods’ presence as retail anchor in the new Englewood Square and history of community engagement across the country sends an important signal: together we can be the transformation agent needed to encourage more investment and reinvigorate the Englewood community.”
Developer DL3 Realty, the general contractor, Ujamaa Construction, and Whole Foods build-out contractor Powers Construction are all African American-owned.
Englewood Square was financed through new markets tax credits (a program in which private investors are given federal tax credits for economic development projects in distressed communities), crowdfunding and land subsidies in partner- ship with the city of Chicago.
Walker says DL3 Realty is the first commercial real estate developer in Chicago to use new market tax credits for new construction. He describes DL3 as an organization guided by a mission-driven philosophy focused on serving and strengthening the Englewood community.
Anchored by three national retail brands, Whole Foods, Starbucks and Chipotle, the new Englewood Square development, located at the historic site of a previous Englewood Mall at 63rd and Halsted Streets, features 50,000 square feet of retail space. The 5.5 acre site is located directly across the street from Kennedy King College.
“The story of Englewood for much of the 20th century was a story of economic and social progress,” Walker continued. “Disinvestment and neglect brought that progress to a halt. Our mission is to reverse that trend and bring a ripple effect of investors and investment back to Englewood.”
The three square miles that comprise Chicago’s Englewood community were annexed to the city of Chicago in 1889. For years, 63rd and Halsted was the community’s centerpiece: a well known commercial center, with three major department stores and hundreds of smaller businesses, second only to Chicago’s loop in both popularity and profitability. That began to change in the 1950s as other retail malls drew people away from shopping in the neighborhood and Dan Ryan Expressway construction caused broad population displacement on Chicago’s south side. After years of failed economic initiatives, Englewood Square builds upon the $250 million investment in Kennedy-King College. Kennedy King is located directly across the street from Englewood Square. Both developments are aimed at generating renewed interest in area housing and retail ventures.
“Local Investment kept 63rd and Halsted alive and thriving back in the day,” Walker said, “and local investment will be key to Englewood’s future.”
For more information visit www.DL3Realty.com.