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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Outdoor Dining And Events Popping Up In Woodlawn, South Shore And South Chicago Under New City Program

In Woodlawn, local businesses will set up shop outdoors. In South Shore, events will include live music, fitness programs, paint parties and movie screenings.

Storefronts in the 9100 south block of Commercial Avenue in the South Chicago neighborhood on April 30, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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WOODLAWN — Outdoor dining and events are coming to three south lakefront neighborhoods under a new city program encouraging residents to get out and enjoy public spaces.

Woodlawn, South Shore and South Chicago are among the 15 communities selected for the first round of the Chicago Alfresco program, city officials announced Tuesday. The program gives grants up to $250,000 to nonprofits looking to activate outdoor public spaces on the South and West Sides.

In Woodlawn, the neighborhood’s chamber of commerce will turn an “underutilized” plaza at 62nd Street and Ingleside Avenue into a gathering space with areas for local businesses to set up shop.

South Shore’s chamber of commerce will place patio sets and plant life along 71st Street while organizing entertainment events every other week. Events will include live music, outdoor fitness programs, paint parties and outdoor movie screenings.

South Chicago will host a “Who Tells Your Story” installation along a block of Commercial Avenue, organized by the neighborhood’s Special Service Area service provider South Chicago Parents & Friends. The installation will have distinct zones for art, seating, plants and programs.

“Commercial Avenue provides a rich blend of shopping, dining, cultural attractions and business services for South Chicago residents and visitors alike,” South Chicago Parents & Friends program manager Dave Price said. “This Chicago Alfresco grant will strengthen this historic main street by providing a welcoming and lively experience for shoppers and pedestrians.”

Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism bureau, and sponsor Diageo, an alcoholic beverage company, are distributing $2.3 million in grants to program organizers in the 15 communities.

“As Chicago continues to rebound from the pandemic, we are committed to … putting our streets in the service of what people and small businesses need in their neighborhoods to keep everybody safe and moving, while keeping us all together,” transportation commissioner Gia Biagi said.

The city is continuing to accept proposals for Chicago Alfresco grants. More information on the program is available here. 

The city’s Expanded Outdoor Dining program — which was introduced last year and permits bars and restaurants to operate in private parking lots, on the sidewalk or in closed streets — will also continue this year. Businesses can apply for permits here.

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