South Side neighborhood group wins $10 Million 'Chicago Prize' to reinvigorate Auburn Gresham

Mark Rivera Image
Thursday, August 6, 2020
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"This begins really the shifting of the paradigm in an African American community like Auburn Gresham."

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In a neighborhood that for generations has been disinvested now comes a financial windfall.

"Now we're here proclaiming, yes! There's hope being instilled, there's resources coming," said Carlos Nelson, Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation CEO.

The Always Growing Auburn Gresham project won the $10 million "Chicago Prize" from the Pritzker Traubert Foundation Thursday, besting dozens of other applicants.

"This begins really the shifting of the paradigm in an African American community like Auburn Gresham," Nelson said.

That money is set to transform a 1920's era abandoned building into a healthy lifestyle hub with on-site medical care, a pharmacy, a sit-down restaurant and office space.

It's also set to take a former city lot and turn it into a renewable energy and for-profit urban farm campus, converting food waste intocleanenergy and reinvesting money into the community.

"We really recognize that while talent is universal in our city, unfortunately opportunity is not," said Penny Pritzker, Co-Founder and Trustee of the Pritzker Traubert Foundation.

Pritzker and Bryan Traubert said they're committed to investing $100 million in the South and West sides over the next 10 years.

"Part of what Brian and I have been trying to do with the Chicago Prize is to make sure that we can help community leaders with great ideas get their good ideas funded," Pritzker said.

"We're Chicagoans. We're all in this together," Traubert added.

Community leader Carlos Nelson said that's making a tangible difference.

He's expecting 300 permanent new jobs in Auburn Gresham as part of the redevelopment.

"With hundreds of living wage jobs in this building not only transforming this particular development project but transforming this community and building wealth right here," he said.

The Pritzker Traubert Foundation is continuing to support the other fIve finalists from the South and West sides. Work in Auburn Gresham is slated to begin later this year.