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Bronzeville, Near South Side

Driver Crashes Into Newly Renovated Small Business Incubator In Bronzeville

The team working to revitalize Bronzeville moved into the building nearly 20 years ago and had recently been renovating it.

A traffic accident Sunday night caused a car to careen into the entrance of the Bronzeville Incubator, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
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WASHINGTON PARK — A driver careened through the front door of the Bronzeville Incubator on Sunday, causing thousands of dollars in damage.

The office at 5055 S. Prairie Ave. was closed, and there were minimal injuries to people in the cars, said Bernard Loyd, founder of Urban Juncture, which oversees community development initiatives like the incubator and Boxville.

But the building could’ve collapsed — and the group is now facing an estimated $35,000 in repairs, Loyd said.

The crash happened about 10:50 p.m. Sunday in the 5100 block of South Prairie Avenue, police said: A 21-year-old woman driving a Chevy Cruze hit a Nissan Sentra, which went into the building. The 21-year-old was cited for speeding and having an expired driver’s license, police said.

The Nissan’s driver was “really apologetic” despite not being at fault, while the other driver took off, Loyd said. The Nissan was towed early Monday.

The Nissan narrowly missed a beam that supports the two-story building; if it had hit it, a corner of the building likely would’ve collapsed, Loyd said. He feels grateful the organization was spared that, despite the high repair costs.

Credit: Provided.
A car crashed into the entrance of the Bronzeville Incubator after being hit by another car speeding through the intersection of 50th Street and Prairie Ave. The driver and passenger of the second car were able to walk away from the wreck.

The developer and his team moved into the building nearly 20 years ago and have painstakingly worked to revitalize the 51st Street corridor. The team won a $150,000 grant from the Partners In Preservation competition in 2018, which went toward replacing the building’s facade.

Most recently, the group started renovating the storefront — in addition to two others further down the block — in preparation for restaurants coming to the neighborhood.

“This building had been boarded up for a long time, and it took us awhile to get the capital to actually remove the board and put glass up. Although we weren’t able to finish the building, we put up images, a [project] timeline and a history to keep the community engaged. That work just got done 18 months ago,” Loyd said.

Loyd said similar crashes have occurred near the same intersection in recent years. A driver lost control of their car and crashed into the entrance of SOS Security nearby not too long ago, he said.

Loyd said he’s asked Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) to consider installing traffic-calming measures — like a traffic light or stop sign — at 50th Street and Prairie Avenue.

The alderwoman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Though Sunday night’s crash was a bit of a setback of group, there is little choice but to carry on, Loyd said.

The incubator is used to foster young businesses in the neighborhood. But Loyd’s team does far-reaching work in Bronzeville, creating and renovating spaces to revitalize the area’s business, food and retail scene.

RELATED: Bronzeville’s The Forum Gets $1 Million Grant To Build Arts And Culture Hub In Historic Building

Loyd and his team recently received a $1.5 million commitment from We Rise Together, a collaborative philanthropic effort led by the Chicago Community Trust, which will help the organizers with their work. They’ve also applied for the last round of city recovery grants, requesting $9.5 million.

With other parts of the 51st Street corridor under development, including an indoor/outdoor dining concept and “elevated gym” in the former Cain’s Barber College space and the conversion of a former Streets and Sanitation station into a food incubator, getting the resources necessary to rebuild is crucial, Loyd said.

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