What should be done with Bronzeville’s Rosenwald Apartments?

The massive Rosenwald Apartments building at 47th and Michigan in the Grand Boulevard area of Bronzeville was shuttered a dozen years ago. According to local residents and business managers, it had become a gang-ridden problem zone. A business manager I spoke with told me he’d leave the area, after decades there, if the project reopened – on the theory that it would quickly degenerate into what it had been when an off-duty Cook County Sheriff was gunned while working security at the building.

Plans for the redevelopment of the Rosenwald took advanced recently when Chicago’s Community Development Commission voted to recommend that it receive up to $25 million in tax-increment financing. The proposal contemplates 331 units of low-income and seniors apartments, with a small number of market-rate units.

A group of neighbors who live near the building have organized Rosenwald for All to work toward what they view as a more imaginative and viable redevelopment than what’s been proposed. Among their concerns is the lack of retail and service infrastructure in the immediate area to support the new residents. They’re also questioning the wisdom of devoting public funds to a project that would cost (at current estimates) well over $300,000 per unit.

In the video you’ll meet some of the members of Rosenwald for All, walk the neighborhood with them, and hear their concerns and their alternative vision for a more viable use of the property.

For more information, read the statement (pdf) the group submitted to the Community Development Commission prior to its vote.

The photo below, looking along 47th St toward the Rosenwald, helps answer the question of whether this is the right environment for seniors and family housing.

The only value I could see in the 5-story building was in salvaging the brick during a teardown.

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