Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI) is leading the resurgence of the historic Pullman Neighborhood. CNI has been chosen as the developer of Pullman Park with a mission to bring jobs, retail, affordable housing, and safe recreational spaces to the neighborhood. CNI celebrated another victory on October 23, 2017 with the opening of Potbelly Sandwich Shop on 111th Street and Doty Avenue. CCLF has provided housing financing for CNI in the past and is now also supporting CNI’s efforts in Pullman through Activate Retail, its commercial real estate development initiative, which offers financing and funding for transformative projects that grow retail in depressed neighborhoods in need of a spark to ignite economic prosperity. CCLF received funding from JPMorgan Chase’s PRO Neighborhoods Initiative which is supporting CNI and other commercial real estate projects.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony of Potbelly, CNI’s President David Doig stated, “This is part of our first phase of neighborhood retail that began with Walmart providing a place to shop. Now, Potbelly will usher you into the Pullman Historic District where we are working to create over 1,500 new jobs.” Potbelly is the first retail shop visitors will see exiting I-94 on 111th Street. Star Cleaners and Laine’s Bakery (both owned by local African-American entrepreneurs) also are slated to open next door in this new retail center. A new Whole Foods Distribution Center under construction a few blocks away is anticipated to provide another 150 jobs. US Bank, Method Products and Gotham Greens are also located in Pullman Park, offering employment opportunities to local residents.
Alderman Beale, during the ribbon cutting ceremony, announced with pride all of the new developments happening in his 9th Ward. “We have been busy creating jobs since President Obama came to designate the area as a National Monument.” Pullman Park is providing new retail goods and services to Pullman, Roseland and the Greater Calumet Region, including the 150,000 square foot Walmart, featuring a full-service grocery; more than 70,000 square foot of new retail space anchored by a Ross Dress for Less, a Planet Fitness, and an Advocate Health Care Center.
Pullman was created in the early 1800s as a community for employees of the Pullman’s Palace Car Company, owned by George Pullman. The Pullman Sleeping Cars manufactured there launched the careers of many African Americans as part of the elite Pullman Porters. The town had schools, parks, a theater, hotel and homes made out of brick with indoor plumbing. It made headlines and people traveled from all over the globe to learn more about this new planned industrial town that attracted workers to Pullman. As travel by rail declined over the decades, so did company revenues. The neighborhood lost population and the historic buildings fell into severe decline.
As a National Monument (designated so in 2015), the area is poised for attracting thousands of tourists coming to see where the Pullman Cars were created and learn about the major labor problems of the company that led to the growth of unions. CNI, as the master developer of Pullman Park, a 180-acre mixed use site, is coordinating $250 million of new investments in the area creating jobs and drawing new home owners, businesses and visitors to Pullman. Families can once again live in high quality brick housing in Pullman and access amenities, such as a delicious Potbelly sandwich, right in the neighborhood.
Other funders of this project include US Bank, Benefit Chicago, City of Chicago, Northern Trust Company, Wintrust, LISC, Chase and the National Community Investment Fund.