3/15/2017, noon | Updated on 3/15/2017, noon
Following the daily news headlines, you would think there is little good happening in Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods. But when ...
Dorian Myrickes, co-owner of Vinnie’s Steakhouse, located at 400 E. 47th St., said he thinks the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, which began Feb. 27, 2017, has come at the right time for business owners like himself to expand and bring more life into black communities.


Chicago —Following the daily news headlines, you would think there

is little good happening in Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods. But when

you look closer, there’s more to the story.

In Woodlawn, for example, collaborative community development

investments and partnerships are having a dramatic impact on economic

vitality and quality of life. Population has increased 15% - the first increase

in decades -- new jobs are being created, the number of vacant properties has plummeted and violent crime has fallen by 40%.

The foundation for change was laid when Preservation of Affordable

Housing (POAH) was brought to the community in 2008 at the request of

tenants, advocates, the City of Chicago, and the United States Department

of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to accomplish the demolition

and replacement of the 504-unit all Section 8 Grove Parc Plaza, which had

been on everyone’s troubled building list for years. While initially it was

a housing preservation and renewal project, in 2011 POAH, in partnership

with the City of Chicago, was awarded a $30.5 million Choice Neighborhoods

Grant by HUD which challenged them to use the funds and redevelopment

of housing as a springboard for community-wide renewal.

While the goal set for POAH by HUD was the achievement of $210 million in investment, POAH announced in a report released recently that by the end of 2016 (a year ahead of the finish of the grant) $400 million in new housing, retail, institutional and civic investment has been leveraged through their work.

“We knew that by taking down the foreboding old Grove Parc and replacing it with well-designed mixed income housing both on South Cottage Grove and in the neighborhood we would have a positive impact,” said POAH Chicago

Vice President Bill Eager. “That said, the results have surpassed even our

expectations – with long-standing partners, like the University of Chicago and new for- and non-profit groups making investments that both reflect and increase confidence in this great community,” added Eager.

The result of this investment has been striking. It includes new senior and family housing buildings, The Grant, The Jackson, and The Burnham; neighborhood amenities like MetroSquash, offering year round recreation and mentoring programs; and The Woodlawn Resource Center, providing job

placement and training services.

Together, in its newly released 2016 Progress Report, “Accelerating Community Renewal – In Woodlawn and Beyond,” POAH explores how the federal grant and the resulting developments have catalyzed investments from community partners like the University of Chicago, Greenline Development, KMW Communities, Robust Coffee, and others.

These investments in turn have sparked the community’s rebirth

and fueled additional commercial and residential opportunities that

are either underway or are heading to Woodlawn, including the Obama

Presidential Center.

“The story of what has taken place over the last several years in

Woodlawn is one of community involvement, collaboration, and partnership,” said Meghan Harte, executive director of LISC/Chicago, the

Chicago branch of the nation’s premier community development organization

intermediary. “POAH has forged a new template that can be used to revitalize

and renew neighborhoods across the country,” added Harte.

A copy of the report can be found at https://www.yumpu.com/ en/document/view/57194968/ accelerating-community-renewal-inwoodlawn-and-be.