Seaway Bank expands Chatham 87th Street headquarters

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Chicago’s South Side revitalization is getting more momentum as Seaway Bank expands its investment in the community resources, including employment and housing opportunities and other needed services with the renovation of its headquarters.

Since its founding in the mid-60s, Seaway Bank, now a division of Self-Help Federal Credit Union, has embraced a mission of social justice and economic equality. Established in 1965 to counter discriminatory lending practices on Chicago’s South Side, Seaway now continues that mission of providing fair financial services and products to the South Side’s African American community through a $14.2M investment in the renovation of its historic headquarters on 87th Street.

Through the complete renovation of its historically significant headquarters Seaway will continue its half-century long commitment to the South Side by not only providing critical financial resources for local homeowners and businesses through loans and bank accounts, but also by creating high-quality office space and meeting facilities to community partners – facilities that are very rare in these neighborhoods and therefore mostly unavailable to South Side residents. The result will help fuel catalytic change for economically challenged communities of color in the greater Chatham area and beyond.

When renovations are complete next month, Seaway will share the space with nonprofit and small business tenants who will contribute to the ongoing revitalization of the surrounding neighborhood, while providing employment and housing opportunities and other needed services. The building will also feature a flexible, multi-purpose room available to community groups within and outside typical business hours.

The final overhaul and modernization will include over 9,000 square feet of retail and office space; over 5,000 square feet for the institution’s partner tenant Neighborhood Housing Services; more than 7,000 square feet of tenant space on its second floor; and a high-quality community meeting facility in its basement. The design and renovation were spearheaded by Brook Architecture, a Chicago-based practice providing design services to public, private, and non-profit organizations. The firm is headed by RaMona Westbrook.

Its first tenant, Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc. (NHS) was welcomed this past July. NHS has a long-standing presence on Chicago’s South Side and setting up shop at the Seaway headquarters will allow them to widen their efforts to help low and moderate-income homeowners in the historic Chatham neighborhood.

The project would not have been possible without New Market Tax Credits (NMTCs) from the National Community Investment Fund (NCIF), a 501(c)(4) nonprofit investment fund that invests in mission-oriented banks and other financial institutions in order to increase access to services and catalyze economics in low-income and underserved communities; Benefit Chicago, a collaborative effort to create jobs, build wealth, and tackle other social and economic challenges; and the Brownfields Program, which provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, tribes and others. U.S. Bank is serving as the equity investor.

Seaway plans to host an open house in May to welcome current and future members and borrowers, community groups, and more. Those interested in securing space within the new facility may contact Brika Eklund at Brika.Eklund@self-help.org. Questions about the open house may be directed to pkeenan1@comcast.net

Self-Help Federal Credit Union (CA, IL, WA, WI)

Self-Help Federal Credit Union was chartered in 2008 to build a network of branches that serve working families and underserved communities. With 19 branches in California, 6 branches in Washington, 10 branches in Illinois, and 1 branch in Wisconsin, over $1.6 billion in assets, and serving more than 99,000 members, Self-Help Federal is one of the fastest-growing low-income designated credit unions in the country. It is part of the national Self-Help family of non-profit organizations whose collective mission is to create and protect ownership and economic opportunity for all. For 41 years, the Center for Community Self-Help and its affiliates have provided almost $10 billion in financing to help over 184,000 low-wealth borrowers buy homes, start and build businesses, and strengthen community resources. For more information, go to www.self-helpfcu.org and www.self-help.org.

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