DOWNTOWN — About $4 million in business and development grants is up for grabs starting Monday, as city officials begin using fees paid by Downtown developers to invest in projects on the South, Southwest and West sides.
The grants will be awarded by the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, which was created in May to the charge developers additional fees in return for allowing them to build bigger and taller buildings Downtown. About a dozen developments have already paid into the fund.
With the first applications available Monday at neighborhoodopportunityfund.com, the grants will cover as much as 65 percent of a project's costs, according to the Mayor's Office.
"This is a unique opportunity for us to drive economic development and job growth in our most challenged neighborhoods, and make sure the entire city is benefiting from the growth downtown," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a news release.
The first grants will be awarded in late April, after the first round of applications ends, officials said.
The projects must be located in areas identified by the Census Bureau as the home of low-to-moderate income residents. Priority will be given to projects that bring new stores to struggling commercial corridors, grocery stores to areas defined as food deserts, and cultural establishments in areas where there are none.
Grants of more than $250,000 must be approved by the City Council.
Projects funded by the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund must be in areas identified by the U.S. Census as home to low-to-moderate income residents, shown here in blue. [City Of Chicago]