Neighborhood Opportunity Fund - Investment Zones

The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF) and associated bonus program was created in 2016 to "encourage commercial development in neighborhoods lacking private investment" in Chicago.

Downtown developers pay into the fund in exchange for zoning bonuses (to make their buildings taller or denser). The funds can be spent on eligible projects in these "Investment Zones".

Small business owners can apply for grants

Round 1 applications were due between February 27, and April 21, 2017.

Round 2 applications are due between August 2, 2017 and October 2, 2017.

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Projects that paid into the fund

There have been 13 projects so far (as of February 25, 2017), which are paying nearly $12 million.

How the zones were selected

The investment zones were selected by the City of Chicago based upon an analysis by researcher Elizabeth C. Delmelle and her paper Mapping the DNA of Urban Neighborhoods: Clustering Longitudinal Sequences of Neighborhood Socioeconomic Change ( pdf).

Each investment zone on this map, provided by the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, is a Census Tract and was assigned a typology after incorporating the changes of 12 factors of neighborhood change between 1970 and 2010 (see typologies on the right).

Nine typologies

The nine typologies of these Investment Zones are:

  • Aging Post WWII single-family dwellings
  • Stable Bungalow Belt
  • Persistent Poverty
  • Stable older single-family dwellings
  • Blue Collar (transitioning) to Young Urban
  • Blue Collar (transitioning) to Struggling
  • Stable 2 and 3 Flat (neighborhood)
  • Heading to Young Urban
  • Stable Young Urban

The paper presents 12 typologies, but these Investment Zones are a subset of Delmelle's geographic analysis. CityLab summarized the paper