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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

As Officials Celebrate Luxury Housing On Formerly Vacant Woodlawn Block, Neighbors Say Affordable Options Needed

The first three of 10 “luxury” apartment buildings at 63rd and Evans hit the market at $799,000 each.

The first phase of the West Woodlawn Pointe development on the 6300 block of South Evans Avenue includes three, three-flat buildings. Seven more three-flats will be built in later stages of the project.
Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
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WOODLAWN — Nearly a dozen vacant lots near the Cottage Grove Green Line stop in Woodlawn will be redeveloped into 10 three-flats as part of a “buy back the block” initiative.

Developers, investors and local leaders celebrated the first three completed buildings as part of the West Woodlawn Pointe project with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday at 63rd Street and Evans Avenue.

The three buildings at 6314-6322 S. Evans Ave. — each with three “luxury, open-floor plan” apartments with three bedrooms and two bathrooms — are on the market for $799,000 each, lead developer Bonita Harrison said.

“West Woodlawn has been disinvested,” Harrison told Block Club. “There’s a lot of investment on the other side [of Cottage Grove Avenue], so we thought, why not bring that investment into this community?”

Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Local leaders, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th), Cook County Commissioner Bill Lowry and the five West Woodlawn Pointe developers, cut the ribbon on the project’s completed first phase at 6314-6322 S. Evans Ave. Tuesday.

Harrison is one of five Black developers behind West Woodlawn Pointe, alongside DaJuan Robinson, Sean Jones, Derrick Walker and Keith Lindsey.

Seven more three-flats will be built at 6328, 6346 and 6444 S. Evans Ave. and at 6344 S. Langley Ave. In total, West Woodlawn Pointe will create 30 “modern” three-bedroom apartments in the neighborhood, developers said.

The developers plan to pursue similar developments around the Red Line Extension project and in other South Side communities like Englewood and Auburn Gresham, Harrison said.

“We plan to take this same type of development and copy it to other neighborhoods,” Harrison said. “Same look, same layout and the same idea for ourselves — concentrating [our] efforts.”

The C3 Fund — a financial institution that supports Black and Indigenous people, people of color and women who invest in developments in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods — announced a $2 million grant to West Woodlawn Pointe and pledged to help fund its second phase.

Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Visitors take a tour inside one of the first completed West Woodlawn Pointe buildings at 6314 S. Evans Ave. Thursday morning.

West Woodlawn Pointe is “a development by the community, for the community and with the community,” said Jessica Caffrey, president of the Cook County Land Bank.

“Everyone who is a part of this project is kickstarting economic growth in this community that has faced systemic disinvestment over the years,” Caffrey said.

But three passersby told Block Club they did not like seeing public officials, reporters and police officers congregate around the luxury development while they and other Woodlawn residents lack affordable housing and sufficient community resources.

“They don’t build s— for us,” Frederick Harris said as he watched organizers set up the news conference. “We don’t have no voice, no opinion — nothing.”

Thomasina McKee said she was troubled she hasn’t seen any job opportunities for neighbors at the West Woodlawn Pointe sites. Developers touted the creation of 200 construction jobs for the project.

Every job for the project has gone to people of color and women, Harrison said. The jobs were advertised among people in the developers’ networks but not online to the general public, she said.

Other neighbors and visitors to the Bessie Coleman branch library near the development said the news conference and dozens of attendees interrupted their morning without warning.

Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Cook County board president Toni Preckwinkle (center, at microphone) prepares to speak at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first phase of the West Woodlawn Point development Tuesday.

Woodlawn residents have campaigned for years to secure a community benefits agreement, affordable housing, employment and other measures to prevent displacement as the Obama Presidential Center is built in Jackson Park.

West Woodlawn Pointe is a few blocks from a series of city-supported, mixed-income developments on 63rd Street: Park Station Lofts, which is under construction near Maryland Avenue, and two sites between Ingleside and Greenwood Avenues for which city officials are reviewing developers’ proposals.

DL3 Realty, the developer behind Park Station and a finalist for the two other city-backed sites, is also redeveloping the Washington Park National Bank building at 63rd and Cottage Grove.

Harrison’s buildings on Evans Avenue are “encouraging,” as they complement DL3’s efforts and affirm Black and Brown South Siders’ abilities to redevelop long-vacant land in Woodlawn, managing partner Leon Walker told Block Club last month.

“We need scale — we need more people doing this work,” Walker said.

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