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Competition will award $10M prize to spur development on Chicago’s South, West sides

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The “Chicago Prize” is seeking community-driven projects to revitalize under-invested areas


A nonprofit foundation led by billionaire philanthropist Penny Pritzker is launching a competition to award $10 million to a single development project that will accelerate economic growth in a community on Chicago’s South or West Side.

Known as the “Chicago Prize,” the initiative hopes to attract a community-driven, investment-ready project that impacts one or more eligible neighborhoods. The winner must demonstrate how it plans to use physical development and revitalization to “create and strengthen civic infrastructure that catalyzes economic opportunities and improves the well-being of residents,” announced the group on Tuesday.

“How would you make your vision for Chicago a reality?” asked a video outlining the details the Chicago Prize. “Would you repurpose vacant land or buildings? Reimagine a new park or trail system? Build more vibrant, affordable housing? Revitalize commercial corridors and create new community space?”

The $10 million grant is the first of its kind from the Pritzker Traubert Foundation which was co-founded by billionaire philanthropist and former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and husband Bryan Traubert in 2000.

Teams looking to compete for the Chicago Prize must register by July 16 and submit a bid before the August 13 deadline. This fall, up to four finalists will receive $100,000 each to finalize their plans. A winner will be selected in Spring 2020 by a panel of “potential investors and professionals from the finance, community development, and social service sectors,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

The $10 million Pritzker Traubert Foundation grant is the latest initiative designed to spur economic development to underserved areas of the city. Other tools include Mayor Emanuel’s neighborhood opportunity program—funded by developer-paid fees for the right to build taller or denser—and federal opportunity zones which provide tax incentives for investing in distressed areas.