CHICAGO (AP) — A community group on Chicago's South Side on Thursday was the recipient of a $10 million grant from a foundation to boost a million-dollar development to transform an abandoned building and a vacant lot into a neighborhood gathering spot.
The "Always Growing, Auburn Gresham" group received the grant from the Pritzker Traubert Foundation to advance a plan to turn the four-story building into a "Healthy Lifestyle Hub." The building will include health care, nutrition, urban farming, a recycling enterprise facilities and office space the Auburn Gresham neighborhood.
Auburn Gresham is considered one of Chicago's most underserved neighborhoods. It has seen an increase in violent crime this year and high rates of COVID-19 infection.
"Seventy-ninth and Halsted, with this four-story (building) sitting ominously vacant, has become the background of our community," said Carlos Nelson, the CEO of the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation, a partner in the project. "What this means for me is we are now able to hope. It literally provides hope to youngsters, families and seniors who have endured decades of disinvestment and blight."
In addition to the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation, "Always Growing, Auburn Gresham" is a collaborative of the Urban Growers Collective and Green Era Partners.
The grant was the first Chicago Prize awarded by the Pritzker Traubert Foundation. Last year, 80 teams on Chicago's South and West sides submitted proposals for the grant, with six picked as finalists. The foundation said it will hand out an additional $2.5 million fund to support the other neighborhood projects that were finalists.
"We came out of this great admirers of all six of the plans, and while there is one winner ... our hope is all six finalists are going to get funding," said Penny Pritzker, former U.S. commerce secretary and sister of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. She runs the foundation with her husband, Bryan Traubert.
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