If Chicago hosts the 2016 Olympic Games, redevelopment in neighborhoods adjacent to potential venues will get a boost. If Chicago is not chosen, private-sector champions willing to be pioneers in these communities will be needed more than ever.
Chicago neighborhoods located near potential Olympic venues are ripe for redevelopment; indeed that is one of the major potential benefits of hosting the 2016 Games. Nearly 1,700 vacant parcels account for some 7.5 percent of the total area in North Lawndale; in most cases the value of the land is actually greater than the value of the buildings sitting on it. Almost 20 percent of the buildings within the community’s Ogden-Pulaski TIF Redevelopment Area are dilapidated. The story is similar in Grand Boulevard, Woodlawn and Kenwood, where residents’ hard-earned money continues to hemorrhage to nearby city neighborhoods and the suburbs.
Long before the city ever uttered the words “Olympic Games,” North Lawndale had plans for 2016 and beyond. In 2005, the Lawndale Christian Development Corporation and the Local Initiative Support Corporation’s (LISC) New Communities Program released Lawndale’s Quality of Life Plan, Faith Rewarded, the result of a two-year, community-wide planning process. In 2007 and 2008, Ald. Sharon Dixon (24th Ward) partnered with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the Metropolitan Planning Council to lead local residents in creating a vision for redevelopment along Ogden Avenue and other major thoroughfares. Residents have been consistent: They want to preserve and celebrate North Lawndale’s historic character, and attract new commercial, mixed-use and retail shops, restaurants, and recreational facilities.
If Chicago hosts the 2016 Olympic Games, North Lawndale’s plans – and ongoing redevelopment in each of the neighborhoods adjacent to potential venues – will get a boost. If Chicago is not chosen, private-sector champions willing to be pioneers in these communities will be needed more than ever.