Little Village’s Xquina Incubator and Cafe Fully Funded, Construction Expected to Complete by 2023
SMALL VILLAGE – Construction of the long-awaited Xquina Incubator and Cafe project is set to begin this summer, officials said.
The community center and business space, which was introduced to residents in 2018, will soon take over the renovated two- and three-story buildings at 3523-3525 W. 26th St.
Project managers and local officials held a groundbreaking ceremony in September 2020, but construction has been repeatedly delayed due to the pandemic, said Kim Close, acting executive director and chief operating officer of the Little Village Community Foundation. It was supposed to end last summer, but even that date was a delay from the planned 2019 completion.
Close said she now expects the entire building to be open and operational by 2023.
“We’re so excited to have this moving forward,” Close said. “Ultimately, it’s about creating the most impactful community in Little Village, that’s the end goal. It’s a place-based entrepreneurial ecosystem that will live on 26th Street. It’s important that he has a home on this extremely important corridor.
The first floor will house a café run by Ambrosio Gonzalez, of Cathedral Cafe, a bilingual business incubator. It will also have a shared commercial kitchen run by Little Village-based food hero, a culinary education startup. The second floor will have a co-working space, while the third floor will be a gallery for local artists and event space.
Although the project was delayed most recently, officials continued fundraising efforts and have now fully funded it, Close said. It’s a $4.8 million business with a mix of city, state and private money, Close said.
The Little Village Community Foundation is also the sole owner of Xquina, Close said. It was previously a joint effort of the foundation and the Little Village Chamber of Commerce. There was a settlement to make the foundation the sole owner, Close said, but she declined to provide details.
The business services Xquina will provide are already offered by the foundation, but the building will provide infrastructural support to create sustainable economic and community opportunities, Close said.
“These resources, this technical assistance to help [people] having access to capital, like micro-grants, everything they need to grow and prosper their business… those services are currently provided by the foundation,” Close said.
Although the incubator is located in Little Village, services will be available to everyone, Close said.
“Entrepreneurial services exist in The Loop. They exist in other places. Why is Chicago investing $1.5 million in Xquina? It’s because they want these services to be available here on the southwest side in Spanish,” she said.
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