Posts tagged with "South Side":

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Senators, Congresswoman Back National Park Status for Chicago’s Pullman Neighborhood

Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, and Congresswoman Robin Kelly today announced their intention to introduce legislation that would make the Pullman Historic District Chicago’s first national park. Since last year, a movement to designate the South Side Pullman neighborhood a national park has gained momentum. Its historic building stock—full of Romanesque and Victorian Queen Anne style buildings by architect Solon Spencer Beman and landscape architect Nathan F. Barrett — was lauded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The National Trust's president, Stephanie Meeks, cheered today’s announcement in a press release:
While the Trust has long supported these preservation efforts at Pullman, we are announcing today that we have named it our newest National Treasure. National Treasures are a portfolio of highly-significant historic places throughout the country where the National Trust makes a long-term commitment to finding a preservation solution. Working with the National Parks Conservation Association and many other partners, the Trust is pledging to stay involved until Pullman receives the recognition it so richly deserves.
George Pullman train-car empire birthed the planned industrial town that bears his name during the 1880s. After Pullman died in 1897,  the city of Chicago annexed the town. It averted demolition a few times during the 20th century, eventually gaining National, State and City landmark status in 1972. National Park status could bestow additional protections and make it easier for preservation groups in the area to get funding and assistance, in addition to a boost in tourism.
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How Successful is Philanthropy-Based Urban Redevelopment?

Chicago Magazine’s Elly Fishman has an interesting story on Lands' End founder Gary Comer's efforts to save his old neighborhood. Pocket Town, a portion of Greater Grand Crossing on the Far South Side, suffered a 25 percent unemployment rate and longstanding poverty when septuagenarian Gary Comer popped into his alma mater Paul Revere Elementary School. Shortly after he began writing checks to the principal for improvements to the aging red brick building. That philanthropy snowballed into millions of dollars each year for Revere and the neighborhood. In 2010, Gary Comer College Prep moved into a John Ronan-designed school that has garnered praise from the design community. To combat high turnover and low attendance at Revere, Comer invested in affordable housing. Improvements to the neighborhood so far include the haven from violence that the youth center provides, and an uptick in healthcare availability — the health clinic bearing his name vaccinates hundreds of children each year. But it has proven difficult to turn around the neighborhood’s ailing housing and schools. In 2012 Revere landed back on probation. Less than 25 percent of its students met the national student performance average. Comer Prep, however, is among the highest-achieving public schools in Chicago. Housing results have been similarly mixed. New homes have cleared out blight, but few have been purchased by actual residents of Pocket Town. “It’s really hard to change people and communities,” Harvard sociologist Robert  Sampson says in Fishman’s piece. “We need to be realistic…The social forces that permeate the South Side don’t stop at the Pocket Town boundaries.”
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Waffling on Walmart

The story surrounding plans for a new Walmart on Chicago's Far South Side keeps changing faster than the retailer's prices. Last week we noticed that its attempts to break into Brooklyn were eerily similar to those in the Windy City, though we failed to mention how the linchpin of the current argument, that no one would dare locate in Pullman, does not hold true in East New York, as the Gateway Center already has a Target and a few other big box stores. But according to the Chicago Reader, that may not be the case in Pullman either. The paper did the unthinkable and—gasp!—called up the other retailers who the local alderman said he contacted, including IKEA, Dominick's, and Jewel-Osco, to confirm that they had turned Alderman Anthony Beale down. None said that was the case, though a few said they could neither confirm nor deny. Walmart, however, remains undeterred, and the Sun-Times reports it has even gone to the unprecedented step of setting up a meeting with local labor leaders to try and broker a last minute deal that will save its plans for a South Side development from being scuttled yet again.
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Rough Ride on the South Side

With project's like the Gary Comer Youth Center, designed by John Ronan Architects, and the SOS Children's Villages by Studio Gang, Chicago's South Side has some of the most exciting non-profit institutional architecture in the country. Chicago Magazine takes an in-depth look at one project that has had a decidely bumpier ride, the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, once planned for Bronzeville in an Antoine Predock-designed building, now destined for West Pullman in a less ambitious piece of architecture designed by Antunovich Associates (above). The piece lays out in detail how in 2004 the project was scuttled when then Alderman Dorothy Tillman vetoed the project, saying she wanted a shopping center on the site. The project was then relocated to West Pullman, with a slightly less expensive design by Murphy/Jahn. When that design proved too expensive, the client, the Salvation Army, looked at four Chicago firms, not named in the piece, and ultimately chose Antunovich. Even with the more modest design, the project boasts a number of green amenities, including a green roof and solar panels. Ronan and Gang have shown you can get great design on a tight budget. Even if the Kroc Center won't be a destination for architecture buffs, the project will improve the quality of life for young people in the neighborhood. Construction on the center is expected to begin in the next few months.