MAPS has identified areas of Chicago and Cook County that may be targeted for new investment as part of the federal Opportunity Zones and Opportunity Funds program. Opportunity Zones are designated low-income Census tracts where people can invest their unrealized capital gains and get a discount on capital gains taxes (learn more about how this works).
There are 135 Opportunity Zones in Chicago and 46 Opportunity Zones in suburban Cook County. There are 146 Opportunity Zones in the rest of Illinois.
MAPS has multiple pre-development services to help Opportunity Zone-curious investors, developers, and even architects understand the geography and local development patterns in and around Opportunity Zones, as well as find suitable investment sites and properties. In addition, MAPS can:
select sites according to an Opportunity Fund’s very specific parameters
assess zoning entitlement possibilities on any given site, often within 48 hours
conduct design vignettes and building feasibility studies
assist in due diligence and research
find additional incentives with Incentives Checkup
So, where are they?
Opportunity Zones are distributed across Chicago's South and West Sides. However, some wards and community areas overlap with OZs a lot more than others.
Just over a fifth of Chicago's OZ area is in the 10th Ward, on the Far Southeast Side, led by Alder. Susan Sadlowski Garza. The 10th Ward has the plurality of OZ area in the city. Riverdale, Altgeld Gardens, the area around Lake Calumet, the industrial areas along Torrance Ave, both sides of the Calumet River, and part of East Side and South Chicago are included in Opportunity Zones.
After the 10th Ward, no other ward has more than eight percent of Chicago's Opportunity Zone area. The next four wards with the highest amount of OZ area are:
8th Ward, Alder. Michelle Harris – Burnside, Grand Crossing, South Chicago
9th Ward, Alder. Anthony Beale – West Pullman, Rosemoor, Roseland
20th Ward, Alder. Willie Cochran – Cochran will no longer be alderman after the current term ends in May. Nicole Johnson and Jeanette Taylor are in the runoff election on April 2. This ward includes Englewood, Back of the Yards, and Woodlawn
16th Ward, Alder. Toni Foulkes – Foulkes faces Stephanie Coleman in the runoff election.
In terms of community areas that have higher overlap with Opportunity Zones, South Deering has the greatest amount of Chicago's Opportunity Zone area, containing 18 percent of it. This is largely because South Deering overlaps a lot with the same places that are also in the 10th Ward, except for Riverdale and Altgeld Gardens.
After South Deering, no other community area has more than six percent of Chicago's Opportunity Zone area. The next four community areas with the highest amount of OZ area are:
An alternative way to look at where Opportunity Zones were selected is by measuring how much of a given community area is inside an Opportunity Zone. Several community areas are entirely or mostly within Opportunity Zones. 100 percent of these three community areas overlap Opportunity Zones:
None of the listed wards and community areas, however, were identified as having the highest smart growth potential.
I am not yet aware of any administration-led or community-led strategic planning in Chicago, but Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives has been instrumental in redeveloping and helping to redevelop land in Pullman. Their current and past work, attracting a Whole Foods distribution center and the Method soap factory, among other new industrial users, to fallow land in the community area, demonstrates that Pullman looks primed to continue to attract new investment or accelerate the amount of investment.
Contact MAPS today to learn how we can help you integrate Opportunity Zones into your firm’s investment strategy. We can also present a seminar on Opportunity Zones at your firm, and put you in touch with developers and architects.