The Grove

A rendering for the Grove, 4735 S. Cottage Grove Ave.

A developer plans to build a pedestrian- and transit-oriented, street-facing retail space on the empty lot along Cottage Grove Avenue between 47th Place and 48th Street. 

The 86,8000-square-foot Grove Bronzeville may break ground in the spring. Plans are for it to have a marketplace and first-floor food hall with grocers and food stands, indoor and outdoor dining, year-round entertainment and community programming (e.g., nonprofit-led coding instruction) with multi-use event spaces and elevated, landscaped terraces.

Milhouse Development, the project’s developers, are still raising construction funds. Headquartered in Chicago, the company has nine offices nationwide in cities like Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

House of Attention, with an NFT gallery and "metaverse" restaurant, is a program partner alongside Five Iron Gold, an indoor golf simulator, and a new Majani vegan southern comfort food restaurant. The plan is to have national tenants pay more to lease space to lower the start-up cost for local businesses and nonprofits; developers want 60% of the Grove to be locally occupied.

Plans are for there to be 180-plus full-time employment opportunities from the development alongside 20-plus part-time support jobs and 200-plus construction jobs. Developers say more than $70 million may be generated in economic activity alongside a more than $10 million increase in the tax base. More than 50 small businesses may be incubated year-over-year.

At a Sept. 22 community meeting about the project, Melanie Milhouse, principal of Milhouse Development, said that the project is a minority- and women-led collaborative between the developers Milhouse and Syzygy Cities, architect Krueck Sexton Partners, construction company Leopardo, the Ware Realty Group and the MC Management Group.

"It's really the first of its kind on the South Side from the perspective of having a very sustainable building," Milhouse said. "It's made out of mass timber, so it'll have very unique finishes and not need a lot of other materials at play in how we can really see sustainability working within our communities and having a healthy, long-lasting building."

The Grove will come with solar panels on its roof as well as indoor-outdoor spaces. The building's design does not have much embellishment at this point, but Milhouse said more will come as plans progress and that it will mesh with the area streetscape.

Developers are still looking for funding; given the likelihood of a gap between construction costs and revenues from rent, they plan to apply for a Chicago Recovery Grant, new market tax credits and funding from the state. Milhouse noted that tax increment financing is very competitive in Bronzeville, especially for new construction. Developers hope to have city approval and close on the land this winter, then move forward with design. After 16 to 18 months of building, the Grove may open in the summer of 2024.

It is a transit-oriented development site with "minimal" parking spots aside from a small lot behind it, Milhouse said, adding that developers are thinking about buying a lot nearby and adding a valet element.

The site, 4735 S. Cottage Grove Ave., is across the street from the Walmart Neighborhood Market, 4720 S. Cottage Grove Ave., and near the planned five-story Northwestern Medicine outpatient clinic.

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