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$32.4M 'Hatchery' To Help Food Businesses Grow In East Garfield Park

By Heather Cherone | September 7, 2017 1:05pm
 The Hatchery, an incubator for food startups, will be built on a currently vacant lot near the Kedzie CTA Green Line Station.
The Hatchery, an incubator for food startups, will be built on a currently vacant lot near the Kedzie CTA Green Line Station.
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City of Chicago

CITY HALL — An effort to build a $32.4 million food business incubator in Garfield Park backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel relies on $7 million in city funds and will be built in part on land owned by the city worth $150,000 officials plan to sell for $1, officials said.

The 67,000-square-foot facility — dubbed The Hatchery — will provide "a gateway to opportunity" for West Side residents and become the first publicly funded "innovation space" outside of Downtown, Emanuel said.

The incubator — designed to help the corporate giants tap into emerging food trends and technologies — will create an estimated 150 jobs in the first year, and 900 jobs in five years, officials said.

"Chicago is the global culinary capital and The Hatchery will give our local entrepreneurs access to food and beverage companies that operate across the world," Emanuel said in a statement. "But The Hatchery will do more than strengthen Chicago's position in the food industry, it will also serve as a vital community resource and partner for residents across the West Side of Chicago."

The facility, to be built on a 2.6-acre parcel of land near a vacant lot near the Kedzie CTA Green Line Station, will have space for 75 food entrepreneurs, including shared kitchens, storage and office space. West Side residents will be able to rent space at the Hatchery at a significantly discounted rate and the facility will become the permanent home for the Garfield Park Community Council's neighborhood market, officials said.

The City Council is scheduled to consider the project in October. Construction is expected to start in the fall and finish in 2018, officials said.

The project will get $7 million from the city through the area's Tax Increment Financing district.

TIF districts capture all growth in the property tax base in a designated area for a set period of time, usually 20 years or more, and divert it into a special fund for projects designed to spur redevelopment and eradicate blight.

The facility will be built on 12 parcels of land owned by the city. Although the land is worth $150,000, the city plans to sell it to The Hatchery for $1.

The project will also be financed with $8.5 million in tax credits, various grants and donations from food companies including the Kellogg Co. and ConAgra Foods, as well as the Walton Family Foundation, founded by the family that owns WalMart.

In addition, Acción Chicago, a lender that specializes in microloans for low-income communities, will make the facility its new headquarters. The nonprofit lender has 40 employees, officials said.