Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives

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Traditional community development typically has been sequential: “First, build the housing, then the retail, and then attract new businesses.” Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI) has taken a different, three-pronged approach to make those things happen simultaneously. CNI believes that tackling the problem from three different angles at once is the most effective way to help Pullman recover from the exodus of industry in the 1960s and the closing of Ryerson Steel in 2006. Using the large swath of land left abandoned by Ryerson, CNI began recruiting national and local businesses. At the same time, CNI partnered with residential and commercial developers to renovate or build new scores of new single- and multi-family housing and attract the retail amenities to accommodate the growing market. The result has been the creation of 1,500 jobs. Through this unique approach and its innovative use of New Market Tax Credits and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, CNI generated $350 million of investment for Pullman. These investments fueled CNI’s development of Pullman Park, a new $125 million, 8-acre mixed-use site near the new Pullman National Monument. It’s anchored by a Walmart Supercenter and a new dining destination boasting the area’s only sit-down restaurant and first Food Hall on the Far South Side. Additional developments include the Pullman Community Center, the region’s largest year-round-sports and education complex, a Method Products factory where atop of it sits the world’s largest commercial rooftop greenhouse operated by Gotham Greens. It’s also where CNI is completing Gotham’s second but larger greenhouse which will bring 60 additional jobs to Pullman when it opens in Nov. 2019. These developments plus the work of CNI and its network of community organizations, have had a dramatic positive impact. They’ve reversed Pullman’s population loss, reduced violent crime and increased property values. Taken together, this innovative approach has created a new model for renewal that other communities can emulate.