The Seaway Bank, which used to be Chicago’s largest Black Bank, is getting a facelift on the south side of the city.
The Federal Credit Union for Self-Help, which Seaway is now part of, reports that the new look will be achieved through a $ 14.2 million renovation of Seaway’s historic headquarters on 87th Street. In its heyday, Seaway was the largest bank in the Midwest. Its history dates back to the 1960s when it counteracted lending on the south side in the Chatham area.
Self-Help reportedly bought Seaway Bank branches from the State Bank of Texas in 2017. That same year, State Bank acquired all of Seaway Bank and Trust after it was closed by banking regulators. For many years Seaway was recognized on the BLACK COMPANY Bank’s List, an annual list of the best black banks in the country. Self-Help reports that it has 10 offices in Illinois and one in Wisconsin.
Now Seaway will continue its half-century commitment to the South Side by providing funding with loans and bank accounts to local homeowners and businesses. High quality office space and meeting rooms for community partners will also be created, self-help reports.
Seaway will share the space with nonprofit and small business tenants, which will help keep the surrounding neighborhood alive. In addition, it offers employment and housing opportunities, as well as other required services. The building will include a flexible, multi-purpose space available to community groups during and after normal business hours. These facilities are unusual for residents of the South Side.
The overhaul will require more than 9,000 square feet of retail and office space. 5,000 square feet for the institution’s partner tenant, Neighborhood Housing Services; over 7,000 square meters of rental space on the second floor; and high quality community meeting facility in the basement.
The renovation is expected to take place next month. Seaway plans to hold an open house in May.
Officials say the project would not have been possible without New Market Tax Credits (NMTCs) from the National Community Investment Fund (NCIF). The nonprofit fund invests in banks and other financial institutions to improve access to services in low-income and underserved communities.
Other contributors include Benefit Chicago; the brownfields program; and US Bank as a stock investor.