Black developers break ground on new 3-flats in 'West Woodlawn Pointe' development on South Side

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some local African American developers have been transforming neighborhoods one home at a time as they build a better Chicago.

Now, a new collaboration has the possibility of making a big difference for one area of West Woodlawn.

A groundbreaking was held Tuesday morning in the 6300-block of South Evans, which will be the site of 11 new three-flats. The lots had been vacant for years.

"While many saw blight, the people here saw jobs, housing and opportunity to create a healthy community," Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said.

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With support from the Cook County Land Bank Authority and Chicago's Housing Department, five African American developers came together for this "Buy Back the Block" project, whose focus is on the South Side.

"When you put in concentrated efforts instead of just one-offs, it changes the trajectory and people immediately see, 'Oh, what's going on over here? I want to be there,'' West Woodlawn Pointe developer Bonita Harrison said. "That's one of the most important things is to change the dynamics of a neighborhood."

Harrison grew up on the South Side and is one of the five developers.

"When you can infill these properties and you can redevelop these buildings, it bring a sense of peace as well," Harrison said. "So that's important, and it breeds development. Other developers will come into the community and bring equity to the community."

For some who live nearby, they welcome the investment and estimated 150 jobs.

"It all becomes this big community multiplier of positive community aspects," residents Steve Strode said.

"I'm all for employing people," resident Toya Merriweather said. "The better you can get them employed, the less stress in their lives and that way we can all be happy."

West Woodlawn Pointe is scheduled to be completed in nine months. The first properties are expected to go on the market in spring 2023.

Building a Better Chicago is an ongoing series of ABC7 Eyewitness News reports spotlighting the people and groups working toward solutions and improvements across our area. If you know of someone who is Building A Better Chicago, contact ABC7 here.
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