Monday, June 30, 2008

Bronzeville ready for its renaissance

Another look at a changing neighorhood. A neighborhood with a lot of history. That history which is mostly racial is making this neighborhood attractive to many people looking to buy a home or build a business. From the Tribune on Friday...
Once the equivalent of New York's Harlem during the Jazz Age, Bronzeville has a rich history as a vibrant center of African-American culture from the turn of the 20th Century until the 1960s, when the neighborhood fell into decline. The name Bronzeville refers to the skin color of African-Americans who migrated to the area from the South and was first used by James Gentry, an editor for the Chicago Bee.

Today, amid the renovated graystones and brownstones, Bronzeville is witnessing revitalization efforts.

Where 35th and State Streets meet rests a snapshot of what the neighborhood will look like in the next few years. Just steps away from U.S. Cellular Field sit newly constructed condos, townhouses and single-family homes that blend in with a trendy Starbucks and Jimmy John's sandwich shop.

The lakefront community sits minutes away from Chicago's major highways, including Interstate 55, Interstate 90 and 94, and Interstate 290. Residents can easily jump on the No. 4 Cottage Grove bus, the No. 3 King Drive bus or the Green Line train to head downtown.

About five years ago, neighborhood liquor stores and greasy spoons were just as much a fixture on State Street as were the Robert Taylor Homes and Stateway Gardens housing projects. Now several of those businesses are boarded up and vast stretches of empty fields await development.

"Although the housing market in historical Bronzeville mirrors the nations recent downturns, new development continues to be built and buyers are looking in full force to purchase new construction, gut-rehab graystones and state-of-the-art condos," said McDonald. While the market in Bronzeville may appear to be oversaturated with new development and foreclosed properties, McDonald said its an opportune time for buyers to catch great deals.

"This is how Donald Trump got rich," said McDonald. "It's a really good time to get in while the market is slow."

Accompanied by low-interest rates, he adds that developers are more than motivated to sell, offering incentives such as covering closing cost.
Price ranges in Bronzeville can vary depending on location. The farther north you travel, the more you will spend per square footage. A one-bedroom condo can run up to $200,000.

A single-family home can cost up to $500,000, and there are places in Bronzeville that could set you back $1 million.

Bronzeville, once predominantly African-American, is starting to see an influx of newcomers from diverse backgrounds and varied income levels, who value the area's rich cultural heritage.

In response, several area businesses have melded fine dining and the community's musical roots.

Blu47, at 47th and King Drive has combined dining with jazz and gospel music. Open since 2004, the restaurant features an upscale contemporary American menu. Famous for it's braised barbecue short-ribs and chicken lollipops, the restaurant showcases live jazz acts on Thursdays and gospel on Sundays.

The owner, Darryl Petty, has lived in Bronzeville for 15 years. "Our establishment is very family-oriented," he said. "I chose this location because the area is very up and coming, and business has been good since we've opened."

Other area businesses have also flourished, such as the Bronzeville Coffee House at 528 E. 43rd and the Negro League Cafe, at 43rd and Prairie.

Besides serving Caribbean and Southern-influenced entrees, the Negro League Cafe has entertainment on the menu, including neo-soul, hip hop, and rhythm and blues. There's even a spoken word and open-mic night.

More businesses have moved into the area in the past year, but there is still a need for more retail shops and grocery stores.
Change is coming. In this article there was mention of the housing projects on State Street. They're either torn down with new hosing in its place south of 35th or north of about 31st the projects that haven't been torn down are being remodeled. In addition if we go further north to about Cermak Road, I have to wonder if those projects are subject to demolition with those residents having to figure out if they haven't already where else they're going to go next.

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