Robert W. Matanky, president of Matanky Realty Group, joined Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Commissioner Maurice Cox, Deputy Mayor Samir Mayenkar, Michael Fassnacht, Executive Director of World Business Chicago, and 30 other members of the mayor’s staff, representatives of national retailers, developers and bankers on a tour bus on the morning of September 8, for a three-hour tour of new developments and opportunities for development in ten Southside and Westside neighborhoods as part of the Mayor’s Invest South/West initiative. This initiative prioritizes the need for development in ten of Chicago’s most under-supported neighborhoods and has already stimulated $2 billion in investment in those communities. This investment has resulted in new housing, retail, and mixed-use developments, and the creation of new community spaces.

The bus tour highlighted six development sites along the Chicago Avenue corridor from Central Park Avenue in Humboldt Park, and westward to Austin which has been newly dubbed “Soul City.” The tour group disembarked at the new POP Court on the southeast corner of Chicago Avenue and Lockwood where they were met by Ald. Emma Mitts, Vanessa Stokes, who developed the project as the program manager for the Austin Special Service Area, and other members of the community. The POP Court is a bold new outdoor event space for community members and small businesses to host different celebrations. It transformed an unimproved vacant lot which attracted criminal activity into a stunningly attractive and colorful community gathering location, complete with artistic murals, bright colors, picnic tables, shade, pavements, and Astroturf.

After a group picture with all the representatives of the Austin community, the participants resumed their tour to the Southside Back of the Yards neighborhood where they heard about the new United Yards development on 47th and Ashland, and proceeded to disembark at Bishop Plaza, a Matanky Realty Group development. Michael Fassnacht introduced Robert W. Matanky and asked him to tell the group about Bishop Plaza. Matanky told the participants about Matanky Realty Group and its long-term commitment to building and serving communities in Chicago. He spoke about the 40-year history of that development and its redevelopment and explained the challenges of having a shuttered Jewel food store with a restrictive covenant which negatively impacted a neighborhood which became a food desert. He continued to describe the next three failed grocery stores, why they failed, and why Marshall’s closed because they were no longer co-tenanted by a grocery store. He expressed a desire for a small neighborhood Target store which would provide for the needs of the community and thanked the Mayor and everyone else from her office for their support and diligent efforts to bring improvement to the city of Chicago and its communities. Mayor Lightfoot reinforced the message delivered by Robert W. Matanky and pledged her commitment for investment in the Southside of Chicago. The group re-boarded the bus and headed to Bronzeville to look at the final eight development sites.

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