A contaminated industrial site in Chicago's impoverished West Pullman community could become a community arts and recreation center with an indoor water park and outdoor amphitheater, thanks to a gift from McDonald's heiress Joan Kroc to the Salvation Army.I don't have a clear conception of the 1100 block of West 119th. If you catch the 119 bus you will turn west on 119th Street from Michigan Avenue. You will see a lot of devastation.
"She could have given this money to another project. But just think of the foresight she had," Mayor Richard Daley said. "She wanted to carry on a legacy of helping the less fortunate - rebuilding the lives of a child (or) a family through the Salvation Army. This gift will (be for) generations to come."
Two years ago, then Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd) rejected the Salvation Army's offer to build the $109.8 million center in the Bronzeville neighborhood, holding out for retail development on the site.
Tillman's loss turned out to be Ald. Carrie Austin's gain. The Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center now is planned for 33 vacant acres in the 1100 block of West 119th Street.
"I'm blessed that (Tillman) said, 'No.' And the Lord said, 'Get up and go get it,' " Austin (34th) told reporters at Tuesday's unveiling of the building design, describing West Pullman as a "community without hope" and few social services.
Joan Kroc's $1.5 billion gift to the Salvation Army was the largest ever given to a private charity and was to be used across the country. To access the $109.8 million for the West Pullman facility, the Salvation Army must raise $50 million to help build, endow and staff it.
A lot of empty rundown storefronts and vacant land. The streetscape isn't very inviting. By Halsted you will hit a hump that used to be a railroad crossing, then beyond that it's more industrial. There's a strip mall at the intersection of Halsted then there's a factory that could still be active, I don't know. Beyond this factory is a complex for Christ Universal Temple (that's the home of Johnnie Coleman where she's been the long time pastor there). Oh and in this complex is a banquet hall and that comes in handy if you're hosting a birthday party or a wedding reception.
Across the street from there are some homes. Across the street looking east from these homes is a vacant lot. Going back east is I-57, which takes you to Memphis and other points south and west. Across the expressway is some land that will be home to a Target, I reported on that part last year though progress is being made now on bringing them to the 34th Ward. This land used to be a Libby's plant.