Endeleo embraces community development and its inseparable link to health. The mission to revitalize 95 th Street Corridor in Washington Heights is based on health-conscious, cultural redevelopment of the 95 th Street Commercial Corridor. For Endeleo, in 2014 the first salvo in that development was spearheading the multi-million dollar, community-led restoration of the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library at the intersection of 95th and Halested. Reopened in February, 2018 the anchor institution, which houses the Vivian G. Harsh Collection, the largest repository of African-American literature in the Midwest has been repurposed as health information hub, empowering Washington Heights residents as citizen scientists to actively participate in their own healing. Settle for more.
Goals and outcomes include:
Creating a healthy culture in the community
Developing a thriving business corridor that stimulates economic investment
Developing of a strong work force with related activities, including training for the green industries
Increasing availability of affordable housing
“A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace”. —Tennessee Williams
Call it the fruits of our labor, but there’s a sea change rapidly taking shape in Washington Heights (specifically along the 95th Street Commercial Corridor) and it’s nothing short of a Southside Renaissance. In retrospect, when the Endeleo Institute spearheaded the community-led $10M restoration of the now awe-inspiring, Carter G. Woodson Regional Library, few knew that it was precursor to timely civic infrastructure investments along a newly designated federal Opportunity Zone in need of an economic catalyst.
Because today the mile-long 95th street thoroughfare is bookended not only by a transformative regional library to the west but a game-changing, world-class $280M Red Line/Pace Transit Station anchoring the east. The CTA station represents the highest investment in the agency’s history and is ground zero for the much anticipated $2.3B Red Line Extension Project which could get underway as early as 2022. Yet even as the dust settles on the new 95th street station, Endeleo was prescient in recognizing the intrinsic value of the soon-to-be vacant CTA Staging Area, a cluster of eight parcels that encompass the entire 9400 block of State Street and runs adjacent to the station.
Last year, Endeleo leveraged a highly competitive Section 4 HUD Capacity Building Grant through Enterprise Community Partners and parlayed it into four community visioning sessions, a collaborative formed with CTA and the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC). The aim was to engage local stakeholders and build neighborhood consensus for corridor redevelopment, including the staging area.
The sessions bore much fruit and led to a Red Line station press conference just recently announcing a Corridor Development Initiative (CDI), a partnership between community leaders, CTA and MPC to engage in a participatory process that with full support from the City of Chicago, will result in the redevelopment of those eight parcels with major focus on community ownership.
But wait, there’s more! Just four blocks west of the Red Line, at the corner of 95th and Eggleston, community outreach for a rail separation of two Union Pacific railroad tracks is underway as part of a $90M CREATE project. Endeleo, representing its Trinity UCC parent, is a member of the Community Advisory Group and is working with transit officials (CDOT, IDOT, CTA, Union Pacific) to ensure inclusive workforce development for local residents (specifically, Lowden Homes and Princeton Park) is the focal point.
Oh, and did we mention the 2019 Neighborhood Opportunity Fund Grant Endeleo secured to bring the neighborhood’s first community café, co-working and social gathering space? Located at the southeast corner of 95th and Harvard, Endeleo is repurposing a vacant commercial building and combining new construction into Café Du Bois, scheduled for a Spring 2020 opening.
All of these highly collaborative, community-driven activities dovetail with Endeleo’s mission to revitalize the 95th street corridor, reverse history and serve as a model community poised to leverage transit as its ticket to economic mobility.