PULLMAN — The massive Pullman Community Center opened for business on the Far South Side Thursday, giving kids in the neighborhood a $20 million place to play, work out and study.
Built on vacant land at 10355 S. Woodlawn Ave. after years of dreaming, planning and construction, the 135,000 square-foot center joins an area boosted in recent years by a nearby shopping center anchored by a Walmart.
The building features three indoor synthetic turf fields, three hardwood basketball courts, four batting cages and common space for community programs. The turf fields can be used for a wide range of sports, including baseball, football and soccer.
The center — which will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday — will offer after-school sports programs as well as the weekend leagues and winter camps. It’s also available to rent for birthday parties, corporate parties and other private events.
There will also be camps for when kids are out of school, including on Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day and winter and spring breaks.
The center will offer an after-school program from 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday for kids ages 6-18. The program costs $60-100 per week depending on the child’s age.
Programming each day includes tutoring, music, art and nutrition classes and sports on the indoor fields.
Full-day winter break camps start on Dec. 26-28 and continue Jan. 2-4. The full-day camps cost $150-200 per child from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and the half-day camps costs $100-150 per child from 8 a.m.-noon.
For information on camps and after-school programming, visit www.pccindoorsports.com or call 773-928-1000.
The 5:30 Scholars, a nonprofit that strives to help students from kindergarten through eighth grades achieve in the top five percent of their class and score 30 on the ACT, will offer tutoring/homework help services after school at the center.
Amaechi Onyeali, 5:30 Scholars co-founder, said the new center offers a “beautiful opportunity” for kids to get involved. Prices for 5:30 Scholars tutoring vary based on a student’s economic situation, he said.
Kevin Wilks, a dean at Corliss Early College STEM High School, said the Pullman center creates a “safe haven” for students to go to after school.
“It’s nice. It’s clean. It’s brand new. It’s a feel good, and a pride builder in our kids and inside this building they can build character. They do sports. They can build discipline through sports, they can become academically strong and physically strong,” Wilks said.
Wilks said Corliss will use the new center to boost the school’s current sports and academic program.
“As soon as they cut that ribbon and tell us it’s a go, I got 15 kids who are ready to come right now for academics and sports,” he said.
Gwendolyn Brooks junior Christopher Henry, 16, said for the first time in his baseball career, he will have the opportunity train for baseball at an indoor sports complex on Chicago’s South Side. In years past, the Bronzeville teen has had to travel to Indiana and Wisconsin to train.
“This facility is a great opportunity for everybody in the community to be able to come work out on their own time,” Henry said.
The Pullman Community Center is co-owned by the Roseland Youth Center and the Chicago Park District, which will provide programming at the center. Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives developed the site where the center is located.
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), in partnership with the Roseland Youth Center, had the vision for the Pullman Community Center, which originated from a community planning process that involved block clubs and neighborhood organizations.
Beale and developer David Doig, head of the not-for-profit Chicago Neighborhood Initiatived, spearheaded the Pullman Park development that has brought Walmart, Planet Fitness, Ross and eco-friendly soap maker, Method, to the former Ryerson Steel property in Pullman.