When Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the Invest South/West project to focus development on the long-ignored and -abused neighborhoods of the city, we were pleased that one of the West Side buildings singled out for salvage and renewal is the Laramie State Bank Building.
Situated on the corner of Chicago Avenue and Laramie, this is a true landmark building. Stunning inside and out, the building is in an advanced state of decay. If it is to be saved, this is the moment. And support from city government and other agencies will be essential.
There are seven bidders in the about-to-begin review process. Happily, two of them have strong Oak Park connections. The Oak Park Regional Housing Center has teamed with the Heartland Alliance and its housing division on an ambitious proposal to create affordable housing, a locally owned coffee shop, co-working spaces and bank branch in the space. New Moms, a nonprofit rooted in both Austin and Oak Park, has partnered with an affordable housing developer to create a project featuring both affordable units and several health care components.
These are the sort of cross-Austin Boulevard projects that foster connection and hope for our shared future as part of the Greater West Side. We applaud both the Housing Center and New Moms for their vision for this singular building.