Woodlawn church promises development project will celebrate Black culture

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A church is investing in both the spiritual and economic growth of a South Side neighborhood.

Dr. Byron T. Brazier, the pastor of Apostolic Church of God, is proud to carry on the legacy of his father who once headed the church, located in Woodlawn. His father wrote a book promoting Black self-determination.

"He puts in there a paragraph that deals with the church's responsibility to support the community where they are," he said.

The church sits on 18 acres at 63rd & Dorchester. Dr. Brazier, along with his son, J. Byron Brazier, are planning to transform this area into a cultural hub for the community with office and retail space, housing, a performance venue and hotel. Most of the area planned for redevelopment is currently parking lots.

"If we are actually going to become a cyclical economy within our community, we have to really focus on Black business infrastructure," said J. Bryon, who is the lead developer of the Woodlawn Central Development Project.

This community is overwhelmingly Black. J. Byron believes it's important for Black culture to be considered in any development..

"You're going to see what you would see in any developed community like a Chinatown or Greektown," he said. "There's going to be a cultural understanding of where you are."

The South and West sides of the city have suffered from decades of disinvestment. The church is leveraging its resources to change that.

"As we approach this, we're looking at how a community is built," Dr. Brazier said. "And what makes a good community. If you have good education and you have good economic development, you will tend to have low safety needs and low human service needs."

They plan to break ground on the project next year.
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