WOODLAWN — A South Side community organization run by a pastor who’s spent more than 100 days in a tent as he fundraises to build a community center near Parkway Gardens announced the housing complex’s owner will help build the center.
Developer Related Midwest will donate “a wide array of services” in architecture, design and construction to Project H.O.O.D.’s 85,000-square-foot Leadership and Economic Opportunity Center project, officials said Friday.
The Woodlawn-based organization, founded by New Beginnings Church pastor Corey Brooks, estimates the value of the services at $2 million.
Brooks has lived in a tent on top of shipping containers at 6615 S. King Drive since Nov. 20 to try to raise $35 million to build the community center.
The pastor’s “tent-a-thon” had raised $10 million as of Feb. 28, the 100th day of the campaign, according to the Sun-Times. Brooks initially pledged to stay in the tent for 100 days, then extended his stay indefinitely.
Brooks did not respond requests for an interview about his plans for the community center and his extended campout.
Project H.O.O.D. has outgrown its existing space at New Beginnings, 6620 S. King Drive, and needs to “expand our footprint so we can continue to meet the growing needs of the communities we serve,” according to a promotional brochure.
“Woodlawn residents deserve access to the same opportunities as those who live on the North Side, including job skills development, entrepreneurship training, arts and sports programs for young people, and safe places to play,” Brooks said in a statement Friday.
Plans for the center include a “social space” with after-school programs, Wi-Fi lounges; a business incubator; an ice cream shop, burger joint and pizzeria; space for vocational training; a multimedia lab; a rooftop garden; a performing arts center; and a health and wellness center, among other amenities.
Parkway Gardens residents can get free memberships to the community center. To donate to the fundraising campaign, click here.
Related Midwest president Curt Bailey and vice President Don Biernacki spent a night on with Brooks during the campout, they said.
“Pastor Brooks has a deep and inspiring commitment to his vision for a place that creates opportunities for the individuals, young people and families of Woodlawn, and it’s not possible to visit him on that rooftop and leave unchanged,” Biernacki said.
Brooks has invited business leaders and public officials to join him on the shipping containers throughout his campaign.
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich spent the night Feb. 17, while Rob Scheer, founder of the nonprofit Comfort Cases, and Adlai Pharmaceuticals CEO William Stilley are among the other overnight guests in the last several months.
Related Midwest took over Parkway Gardens — the affordable housing complex on King Drive from 63rd and 65th streets, just north of New Beginnings Church — in 2012. The developer put the complex up for sale last year before taking it off the market shortly after.
Neighborhood leaders have long questioned why violence and poor living conditions are so prevalent at a complex owned by one of Chicago’s most active developers.
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