West Side Opportunity Zone Meeting

April 5, 2020

Reading time: 3 minutes

Last Friday I was honored to be included in the West Side Opportunity Zone Meeting hosted by the City Clerk of Chicago, Anna Valencia. The event not only generated support from several local interest groups, but also featured presentations by Alderman Michael Scott, Cook County Commissioner Dennis Deer and Illinois Medical District CEO, Dr. Suzet McKinney.

Bruce Katz, Brookings Institution author and Accelerator for America’s advisory council leader, and Rick Jacobs, Accelerator for America CEO and co-founder, shared their insight into prospectus planning being done in other cities to help facilitate and successfully implement OZ development.

Cities such as Atlanta, Louisville and Kansas City have been taking proactive steps to help coordinate private development with social services and desires. These efforts hope to make the new development interest in these areas as successful as possible in achieving the goals of innovative growth with inclusive outcomes.

Katz and Jacobs have prepared what is called an “Investment Prospectus” for other cities for their Opportunity Zones. An Investment Prospectus is a designed plan for organizing disparate stakeholders in cities around a common purpose. They do this through the following process:

Bring together key stake holders for dialogue focused on improving the livelihoods of OZ residents.
Interview practitioners to begin evaluation of combinations of projects, both operating businesses and commercial real estate.
Solicit feedback from local working groups to build deals that meet both community and investor needs.
Interview investors to bridge the gap between community advocates and capital advisors.
Engage community-based organizations to obtain resident input on overall values for investment as well as specific deals.
The Investment Prospectus has become a vehicle for mobilizing public, private and civic powers and resources in ways that can leverage the full economic and social impact of the OZ incentive. Many investment prospectuses have identified concrete projects that are both investor ready and community enhancing.

Takeaways: Aldermen and other community leaders are excited and supportive of OZ developments and want to put in place a road map and initiatives to help encourage thoughtful development that succeeds in bettering the communities. The presentation ended with encouragement for creation of an Investment Prospectus for the Illinois Medical District to identify concrete strategies that leverage the district’s economic, physical and social networking assets.

If you are interested in learning more about Accelerator America and their initiatives, you can view a sample Investment Prospectus HERE http://acceleratorforamerica.org/OZGuide . If you are interested in learning more about Opportunity Zones here in Chicago, please feel free to contact me.

Ashley Dillard, CCIM

Senior Director

Ashley has an extensive knowledge of the Chicago commercial real estate market. After graduating from University of Kansas with a degree in architectural studies, she worked in Kansas City as a commercial leasing agent at a 2.1 million square foot office park. While working for an institutional owner, she learned valuable skills such as client reporting, communication and accountability.


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Opportunity Zones By The Numbers


The total number of census tracts certified as Opportunity Zones by the U.S. Treasury.


Potential unrealized capital gains eligible for Qualified Opportunity Fund investment and tax treatment.


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s estimate of private capital that will flow into Opportunity Zones.