$14.2 Million Renovation in Store For Iconic Seaway Bank in Chicago

Formerly part of Chicago’s largest Black bank, Seaway Bank is getting a facelift on the city’s South Side.

Self-Help Federal Credit Union, which Seaway is now a division of, reports the new look will come through a $14.2 million renovation of Seaway’s historic headquarters on 87th Street. In its prime, Seaway was the largest bank in the Midwest. Its history dates back to the 1960s as it countered lending on the South Side in the Chatham area.

Self-Help reportedly bought Seaway Bank branches from the State Bank of Texas in 2017. The 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 ENTERPRISE Bank’s list, an annual roster of the nation’s top Black-owned banks. Self-Help reports it operates 10 branches in Illinois and one in Wisconsin.

Now, Seaway will continue its half-century-long commitment to the South Side by providing financial resources for local homeowners and businesses with loans and bank accounts. It also will create high-quality office space and meeting facilities for community partners, Self-Help reports.

Seaway will share space with nonprofit and small business tenants who will add to the ongoing revitalization of the surrounding neighborhood. Plus, it will provide employment and housing opportunities and other needed services. The building will include a flexible, multipurpose room available to community groups within and outside typical business hours, facilities uncommon to South Side residents.

The overhaul calls for over 9,000 square feet of retail and office space; over 5,000 square feet for the institution’s partner tenant Neighborhood Housing Services; over 7,000 square feet of second-floor tenant space; and a high-quality community meeting facility in its basement.

The renovation is expected to be done next month. Seaway plans to host 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 boost access to services in low-income and underserved communities.

Other contributors include Benefit Chicago; the Brownfields Program; and U.S. Bank as the equity investor.

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