About the Bethel Commercial Center
Develope/Ownerr: Bethel New Life
Architect: Farr Associates Architecture and Urban Design
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Why the Bethel Commercial Center ?
This mixed-use transit center arose from a long-term commitment to a low-income neighborhood located on the west side of Chicago. Farr Associates contributed a land use plan that helped save the Green Line train route, resulting in a visionary Neighborhood Center plan that created a walkable neighborhood anchored by a new park. With the community in mind, Farr designed a full transit center equipped with amenities such as retail space, employment offices, a bank and a daycare center. This facility allows neighborhood residents to drop off and pick up children from daycare to get to and from work, all without the use of a car.
Taking the design one step further, the building achieves a LEED Gold rating. Daylight is harvested through lightshelves and sunlight shafts to reduce energy use and air conditioning loads. Additional green elements such as photovoltaic tiles and a green roof resulted in a building that uses 53% less energy than conventional construction.
Bethel New Life began planning the Bethel Center on a Brownfield (an unused contaminated site of 10+ years) in the W. Garfield neighborhood in the 1990’s. Bethel’s vision was to rebuild a troubled community by developing a community plan that included sustainability, transit oriented development, local benefits and ownership (jobs and services that set the stage for future development). To ensure this development’s success, Bethel started construction of energy efficient housing within walking distance of the transit stop and the Bethel Center. Over 100 homes were built. The development garnered the praise of the community and local businesses, bringing the only full-service bank into the community and also a national franchise food chain, in addition to local entrepreneurs. Ever creative in financing, Bethel was able to attract New Market Tax Credit investors to take on the construction loan at the project’s completion.
The Bethel Commercial Center…
- Incorporates transit oriented design: quick access to public transit
- Is Mixed use
- Provides community amenities: jobs, retail, bank and childcare
- Is LEED Gold, energy-efficient