Rediscovering Bronzeville: A Historic Neighborhood on the Rise

June 12, 2023

Bronzeville is a historic neighborhood located on the South Shore of Chicago, Illinois. It takes its name from the period when many African Americans moved to the area during the Great Migration, between the 1910s and 1930s. Bronzeville is known for its rich cultural, artistic, and political history, and is home to cultural institutions, successful businesses, jazz clubs, theaters, and churches. The neighborhood has seen the birth of influential figures such as poet Gwendolyn Brooks and musician Louis Armstrong.

Up until the early 2000s, Bronzeville had the largest amount of vacant land of any neighborhood in Chicago. However, the community has been actively engaged in promoting economic development and revitalization initiatives. Local organizations, government agencies, and businesses have collaborated to attract investments and create job opportunities. This concerted effort can result in a favorable business environment and potential returns on investment. Hints of resurgence have been on the rise over the last several years. In 2017, Bronzeville’s average occupancy rate was 92.4%; by the end of 2022, it was just below 96%. This bodes well for multifamily owners due to the neighborhood’s real estate composition, 92% of which consists of multifamily properties.

Most recently, city officials and several real estate development firms joined together for the commencement of the Bronzeville Lakefront, a megadevelopment spanning 100-acres across what was previously the Michael Reese Hospital. The new development, built on prime real estate with unobstructed lake views, will become a cultural destination for the neighborhood, with a pavilion, welcome center, housing, and retail. The mixed-use project is projected to exceed $3.8 billion, and the team estimates the property will generate $3.1 billion in new tax dollars. The project is scheduled for delivery in 2035.

In 2019, the city also announced the approval of Invest South/West, a massive investment campaign to revitalize previously underinvested areas across Chicago’s south and west sides. The campaign has already aligned more than $2.2 billion in public and private investments, and it aims to provide support to small businesses, create public realm improvements, restore historic buildings, and foster equity and resilience in Chicago’s underserved communities. Moreover, tens of millions in funding are going toward the creation of over 9 acres in greenspace, bike, and walking paths.

As development plans and construction continue to progress, multifamily investors are paying closer attention to the neighborhood. Brian Mond, a Director at Essex Realty Group, Inc. has recently facilitated the sale of three parcels in the area, “Interest in this neighborhood has significantly increased over the last few years due to this transformation. These areas have such a rich history and are truly a cornerstone of the city. Our team recently facilitated the sale of a multifamily building, as well as two land parcels, all of which sold to investors who are very optimistic about where this neighborhood is headed.”

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