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19th Annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards

Honor City’s Best in Community Development

1,500 Join to Honor 10 Award Winners

 CHICAGO (Feb. 14, 2013) –Nearly 1,500 community, government, finance, and philanthropic leaders gathered on Feb. 13 at the 19th annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA) to honor those whose physical structures or transformative community work were deemed the year’s best. CNDA is the only juried award ceremony of its kind in the nation.

This year’s awardees – representing 10 different award categories – provided a view into the challenges and opportunities faced by the city’s neighborhoods, and the diverse and innovative ways in which they are being met. From an urban farm on formerly vacant lots in Englewood, to a “green incubator” on the site of a former lamp factory; from the use of theater to fight racism and spur economic development, to the creation of an affordable dormitory for Chicago college students transitioning from neighborhood to college life – the winning projects span the city’s neighborhoods and provide an in-depth look at the challenges that communities face in a changing, global economy.

Created in 1994 by Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago (LISC Chicago) to raise the profile of and underscore the importance of investments in neighborhoods – particularly inner city neighborhoods– CNDA has grown into one of the city’s most well-attended events, attracting a cross-section of leaders who gather to both honor and be inspired by the exemplary work. Many of the awards focus on physical developments, including three Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Architectural Excellence in Community Design and designations for both the best for-profit and nonprofit real estate developments of the year. Other awards have been added to the program to recognize and honor innovative community strategies and emerging leadership, as well as a special recognition award given to an entity that defies easy categorical definition. In addition, a non-juried Richard M. Daley Friend of the Neighborhoods Award is given to a person whose lifetime has involved a continuous commitment to, and impact on, Chicago’s neighborhoods.

“At the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards, we acknowledge and celebrate the organizations, developers and architects who sustain and enhance the vibrancy of our city,” said Susana L. Vasquez, executive director of LISC Chicago. "Their accomplishments exemplify how Chicago is a leader in community engagement, planning, development and physical design.”

This year’s winners are:

The Chicago Community Trust Outstanding Community Strategy of the Year ($20,000):

Growing Home, Inc. for urban farms in Englewood – Though fast food restaurants are common in Englewood, fresh produce is scarce and healthy eating a struggle. But in that scarcity, Growing Home, Inc., a social enterprise committed to community development through urban farming, saw opportunity. After obtaining a small plot of vacant space in Englewood, Growing Home has sprouted new life on Chicago’s South Side at two vibrant urban farms.

The ongoing economic displacement of families and persistent violence have taken a toll on Englewood’s health – limiting access to fresh, healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food. Yet, due to the hard work of several community development organizations, the neighborhood has become a nucleus of urban agricultural innovation. At Growing Home’s flourishing Wood Street and Honore Street Urban Farms, people experiencing homelessness  and the formerly incarcerated take part in job training programs in which they plant, grow, harvest produce. Growing Home later expanded its programming to help Englewood residents learn about organic farming and shop for healthy produce.

The former open space on Wood Street has been transformed into a 2/3-acre garden, complete with a building that houses classrooms, office space, and a vegetable processing area. The neighboring Honore Street farm is nearly an acre in size. With a total of 22,000 square feet of outdoor space, two new hoophouses are planned for next year’s growing season, which will further expand growing space. Though small, in 2012 the Englewood farms produced nearly 13,000 pounds of produce. Organizers and residents project that the farms will produce approximately 20,000 pounds of produce in 2013. In 2012, Growing Home made more than $200,000 in revenue between their CSA, wholesale to restaurants and sales at local farmers markets.

The organization expanded its vision in Englewood to include job training, physical activity and employment assistance to a neighborhood that experiences both high rates of obesity and unemployment. In addition to creating a weekly farm stand and cooking classes for youth and adults, Growing Home has established a micro-center of economic development with its transitional jobs program, offering training and employment services, which has placed Englewood residents in more than 200 jobs. More than 40 interns have taken seasonal positions at Growing Home as they transition back into the workforce.

Outstanding Non-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project ($15,000):

Lawndale Christian Health for Lawndale Christian Health and Fitness Center – Chicago’s North Lawndale community is not often cited in the news as an innovator in the field of health and fitness – but that changed last year with the creation of the Lawndale Christian Health and Fitness Center.

The 60,000-square-foot, four-story building, erected on a formerly vacant lot, is a handsome structure of brick and glass that anchors the busy intersection of Ogden and Hamlin avenues. More importantly, the Center now provides a foundation for healthy community life.

The lower two floors house more than 100 fitness machines, an indoor track, basketball gym and areas for group fitness and exercise classes. The lobby includes a café with fresh, healthy food options and small kitchen goods for sale. The café also features a learning kitchen that teaches healthy cooking.

Upper floors hold a pharmacy as well as 30 medical exam rooms and 17 dental bays, expected to allow for over 300,000 medical visits, 20,000 dental visits and filling more than 75,000 prescriptions annually. A top floor conference center and rooftop garden finish up the building. 

After assessing the needs of North Lawndale residents and overcoming a $10 million financing gap, the building was constructed in accordance with Green Roof and LEED Certification Guidelines. The Center’s development and construction were funded by a combination of state and federal grants, new market tax credits and the developer’s equity. The new health and fitness center is a testament to the hard work undertaken by North Lawndale’s renowned community.

The Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award ($15,000):

5T Management and Community Investment Corporation – While the shutdown of a troubled building is a welcome end-point in many communities, the situation is different in Washington Park, where much needed affordable housing is in short supply. So when a federally subsidized apartment building on South Michigan Avenue had its utilities shut off in 2008, an alliance of organizations sprang into action to save it and its 30 affordable rental apartments. In an extraordinary tale of cooperation between community organizations, a private developer and the government, the building was saved from abandonment and demolition. Under new ownership, the funds were restored and the building was saved – avoiding the displacement of families.

Working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the City of Chicago’s Troubled Building Initiative, Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the organizations collaborated to stabilize the building’s finances and physical condition. At the request of the alliance partners, Community Investment Corporation (CIC) purchased the building’s mortgage from Fannie Mae, foreclosed on the property, and sold to 5T.

Simultaneously, in an unprecedented action, HUD worked with the organizations to maintain the building’s project-based subsidy contract while the building went through the foreclosure process necessary to turn it over to a responsible new owner.

5T had its work cut out for it as it thoroughly rehabbed the building. Neglected for years by the building’s most recent owner, residents lived with holes in the ceiling, standing water and rodent and roach infestation. Negligent security allowed drug dealers in the neighborhood to use the building as a lookout place while transactions occurred on the corner.  

But with loans from CIC, 5T undertook a full rehab, including the installation of a new elevator, a boiler, a hot water system, and redid all plumbing, electrical service, windows, framing, exterior wall insulation, roof insulation, drywall, interior and exterior doors, flooring coverings, electrical service upgrade and instituted keyless entry systems.

The Outstanding For-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project Award:

Baum Development for Green Exchange – When the century-old Frederick Cooper Lamp Factory closed down, the Logan Square community feared a double disaster – the prospect of a large vacant property on a major thoroughfare and the loss of scores of needed jobs. Finding that the empty building was slated for condo development, community residents led by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association protested against the impending zoning change and set out to find a partner that would re-purpose the building into a new center of economic vitality. Baum Development was that partner.

Dreamed up by Baum and LSNA, the Green Exchange is a multi-tenant, environmentally sustainable complex that now supports more than 1,200 green collar jobs in a variety of fields.

Through several major setbacks, Baum and LSNA persisted in pushing for grants, permits and tenants to occupy the large building. Envisioning a “green incubator,” the partners seized the opportunity to renovate the building to LEED Platinum standards, turning the 270,000-square-foot structure into the largest sustainable business site in the United States. Among the 30 tenants, the largest is Coyote Logistics, which identifies and leverages the most efficient mode of transportation for shipments, eliminating carbon emissions by tens of thousands of tons.

In addition to providing spacious offices and common spaces, the Green Exchange also offers an organic sky garden, a restaurant, expansive meeting and event space, on-site catering and parking. Baum Development has also initiated a building-wide green environment cycle, adding honey producing bees to the roof, which pollinate the organic garden, the produce from which – along with the honey – will eventually be used in the on-site restaurant. The system provides a sustainable cycle that eliminates deliveries, pollution and energy use, minimizing the building’s carbon footprint.

Special Recognition Award ($5,000):

Black Ensemble Theater and Cultural Center – A year ago, when the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center opened  its new home in the Uptown neighborhood, the Chicago theater community and local residents celebrated the latest accomplishment of one the city’s most highly regarded theater companies. Yet, when Jackie Taylor founded the Black Ensemble Theater in the late 1970s, there were many who wondered whether a theater group founded on a commitment to eradicating racism, and bolstering community participation and employment had a real chance for success. 

The description certainly applies to the Black Ensemble Theater. In the past 35 years, it has mounted more than 100 critically acclaimed productions, expanded the audience for theater, and has employed and educated thousands of actors, designers, musicians and crew. It is also home to the Black Playwrights Initiative and the Black Playwrights Festival, which provide training, exposure and opportunities to emerging African-American playwrights. 

While accomplishing much, the ensemble never had a permanent space for its performances and educational and outreach activities. But just over a year ago, the new Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center opened its new home at 4450 N. Clark St. in the Uptown neighborhood.  Designed by Morris Architects Planners, the Cultural Center features a 300-seat main stage theater, a 150-seat theater for smaller productions, a rehearsal hall and dance studio complete with scene, costume and wardrobe rooms; seven dress rooms; work space for musicians; an expansive lobby, an indoor parking garage and classroom space.

Uptown has long been one of most integrated neighborhoods in Chicago: it is home to a deeply rooted African-American community, as well as to a diverse population of immigrants from around the world. From that diversity has grown a great deal of creativity and art, but with it, tension. That complex dynamic made Uptown an important place for the Black Ensemble Theater to build on its work of eradicating racism through theater arts.

Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design, First Place ($15,000):

UrbanWorks Ltd. for La Casa Student Housing – Located at 18th and Paulina streets, the dormitories were created at the behest of The Resurrection Project, which sought to build an affordable living space in its community for students attending college – many the first in their families to do so. UrbanWorks strived to create a building that captures the vitality of Pilsen.

Using a combination of glass and bricks as essential building materials, the handsome building links the physical structure and its occupants to the past and the future. While the red brick cladding reflects the historic buildings that surround the dormitory, soaring glass panels provide vistas of the larger city and the future that awaits the students.

Sleek on the outside, cozy within, the dorm includes 25 four-bedroom suites for the 100 students who live there. Each suite contains private bedrooms with specially designed beds and desks, a common kitchen and living room. Light and airy, the suites have large windows set into masonry walls. The ground floor features a fitness center and laundry room, and is designed to accommodate a community café or retail store. The shared living/dining spaces on the corners of the building are fully glazed, sunny spaces during the day. At night they serve as a focus for the entire community.

Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design, Second Place ($3,000):

Pappageorge Haymes Partners, Koo and Associates for Park Douglas– The two firms worked together  in creating Park Douglas, the first phase of what will eventually be a 300 apartment, mixed-income development. The project was undertaken by the City of Chicago, the Chicago Housing Authority, Brinshore Michaels and Sinai Health System. Pappageorge Haymes and Koo collaborated to create housing on a large swath of land that was formerly the site of CHA housing and on a variety of vacant lots that dotted the blocks between Roosevelt Road and 14th Street, and California and Talman.

The 19 new buildings – with a total of 137 two- to four-bedroom rental apartments – are 100 percent masonry and range in size from two to nine flats. They’re constructed of familiar materials such as face brick and stone, including limestone details salvaged from razed vintage buildings. Koo’s three-story infill buildings reflect the classic features of the surrounding neighborhood, while structures adjacent to the proposed new Mt. Sinai Ambulatory Care Center, designed by Pappageorge Haymes, are in the more modern style of the planned medical center expansions. By blending elements of traditional and contemporary architectural detail in an original manner – closely related to existing residential units – the architects created a streetscape that’s sympathetic to the past yet accommodates the needs of the future.

The Park Douglas buildings incorporate green features that exceed the City of Chicago’s energy efficiency requirements and are expected to be awarded LEED Gold certification. In a nod to the natural beauty of neighboring Douglas Park, a portion of each building's rear yard was set aside as a private garden for residents.

Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design, Third Place ($2,000):

JGMA for UNO Soccer Academy— A stunning structure of undulating glass and steel at 51st and Homan in the Gage Park neighborhood, the new elementary school stands as a symbol of the community’s aspiration for its young people.

Supported by a gleaming three-story steel frame, the sides of the building are clad in glass allowing a flood of daylight throughout corridors and classrooms and a seamless connection between students, the neighborhood, and in the distance, the city’s downtown.

The ground floor houses the shared elements, where learning theaters and soccer fields frame an interior courtyard. Classrooms occupy the second floor, while the third floor is devoted to a community center with views of the Chicago skyline. All of the building’s corridors and stairwells are enclosed in glass on the exterior of the structure. The large openings around the school allow for interaction between the students within and the passing community.

JGMA and UNO won community support by emphasizing their vision for a school that would creatively engage students and families. Building on the site of a long-shuttered manufacturing plant, the partners took title to the land in less than a year and constructed what has become a neighborhood icon that embodies the hopes and dreams of its local community.

The PrivateBank Norman Bobins Leadership Award ($5,000):

Modesto Tico Valle, Center on Halsted – Chicago’s LGBTQ community, long a force in the city’s life, has gained new resources and political power over the last two decades. Among the leaders of that community, the efforts of Modesto Tico Valle, the CEO of the Center on Halsted, stand out.

Growing up in a rapidly changing Old Town, Valle learned early the values of community activism and nimble leadership. But it was during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s that Valle emerged as a true leader, growing into one of the nation’s most effective advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) community and for HIV/AIDS awareness. 

As an organizer, Valle worked as a volunteer, staff member and founder of a number of Chicago-area nonprofits, including the Chicago NAMES Project, Chicago House, Test Positive Awareness Network, Open Hand Chicago, and Gay Horizons – the preeminent social services group to the gay community. In 2003, Horizons shifted its focus to provide more holistic services to the community and became Center on Halsted.

Valle became the CEO of the Center in 2007, where he soon oversaw the opening of the 175,000-square-foot community center in Lakeview, which now serves more than 1,000 people every day. A safe and accepting place, the Center on Halsted offers activities such as volleyball and cooking classes, as well as HIV testing, group therapy, and job training – all in accordance with Valle’s vision of developing all aspects of a person’s life. In response to the needs of the community, this year Valle formed a partnership with Heartland Development, Inc. to create the city’s first affordable housing development devoted to LGBTQ seniors.

Under Valle’s adaptable leadership, Center on Halsted has become a home for diverse voices and a hopeful, safe place for LGBTQ youth and adults.

The Richard M. Daley Friend of the Neighborhoods Award:

Julia M. Stasch, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation – Best known for her role as Vice President of US Programs at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Julia Stasch has contributed to Chicago’s vitality throughout her adult life. As the city’s Commissioner of Housing, the mayor’s Chief of Staff, and for the past decade at MacArthur, she is renowned for thoughtful leadership that overcomes challenges and creates opportunities for the betterment of neighborhood and city alike.

A former teacher and real estate executive, Stasch later worked briefly in Washington, DC as Deputy Administrator in the General Services Administration for President Clinton. In the late 1990s, she joined city government first as Commissioner of Housing and later as Chief of Staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley.

While at the city, Stasch helped develop a now-standard collaborative process for creating five-year strategies for affordable housing. It was her rethinking of public housing that resulted in the Plan for Transformation, which has brought new opportunity and hope to residents as well as to the communities that once languished in the shadow of the isolating and troubled high rises. Her vision brought critical focus and financial resources to the city’s neighborhoods.

Stasch was eventually named Vice President of US Programs for MacArthur, where she has invested in activities and programs, including LISC Chicago’s New Communities Program, that support Chicago neighborhoods. While maintaining a sharp focus on Chicago, Stasch’s leadership is also evident in numerous national programs and efforts that address critical issues such as juvenile justice, housing policy, digital media and learning, and the country’s fiscal future.


Applications representing a variety of community organizations and development efforts were submitted for the CNDA awards. Each application was assigned to a team of three or four judges who reviewed the application and visited the facility or project. Volunteer judges from the non-profit and for-profit sectors participated. Judges rated applicants on development process or organizational effectiveness, community impact and project or organizational challenge. The Awards Committee reviewed all of the applications and judges’ score sheets and discussed the merits of each application in detail.

Applications were taken separately for the three Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Architectural Excellence in Community Design. A Driehaus jury of volunteers evaluated the applications and conducted site reviews of the finalists. Their decisions were based on the quality of a project’s design within the constraints imposed by funding and regulatory agencies, the project’s contribution to the comprehensive development of the community, and the extent to which the project can be viewed as a model of design for developments in other neighborhoods.

About CNDA

Established in 1995 by Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago (LISC), CNDA recognizes outstanding achievements in neighborhood real estate development and community building, architecture and individual leadership. This year’s ceremony, held at the Chicago Hilton & Towers, attracted more than 1,500 people, including leaders of Chicago’s non-profit, corporate and philanthropic sectors. 

“Neighborhood development isn’t easy," said Vasquez. "But through the efforts of innovative community leaders, our neighborhoods continue to grow and improve. At the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards, we acknowledge and celebrate the organizations, developers and architects who, year after year, sustain and enhance the vibrancy of our city.”

As a result of a juried process of noted leaders in philanthropy, banking, real estate and urban planning, awards are presented in seven categories: The Chicago Community Trust Outstanding Community Strategy of the Year Award; The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Outstanding Non-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project; The Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award; The Outstanding For-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project Award; Special Recognition Award; The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design; The Richard M. Daley Friend of the Neighborhoods Award; The PrivateBank Norman Bobins Leadership Award.

The 2013 CNDA was chaired by Lori Healey of Tur Partners and underwritten by lead sponsors: Allstate; Bank of America; BMO Harris Bank; Charter One; Chase; The Chicago Community Trust; Citi; LISC Chicago; MB Financial Bank; Northern Trust; PNC; Polk Bros. Foundation; The Private Bank; The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; StateFarm; and US Bank. CNDA is supported by: Applegate & Thorne -Thomsen, PC; The Boeing Company; Brinshore Development; Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago; Illinois Housing Council; Illinois Housing Development Authority; The Habitat Company; University of Chicago; Camiros, Ltd.; Chicago Bears; Chicago Community Loan Fund; Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives; Cole Taylor Bank; ComEd; The Community Builders; Community Investment Corporation; Community Reinvestment Fund; Enterprise Community Partners; Fifth Third Bank; Greater; Southwest Development Corporation; Holsten Real Estate Development; IFF; Lighten-Gale Group; Matanky Realty; Mercy Housing; Miner Barnhill & Galland, P.C.; Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc.; Preservation of Affordable Housing; The Resurrection Project; SB Friedman Development Advisors; SER Central States; Teska Associates, Inc.; Urban Development Fund, LLC; Urban Partnership Bank; Walgreen Co.; Walsh Construction; Wight & Company; Wintrust Financial.

About LISC Chicago

The mission of LISC Chicago is to combine corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize city neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC Chicago has infused more than $232 million into housing, human and economic development projects, leveraging a total of $5 billion in aggregate community investment. The results are quantifiable: with LISC support nearly 30,000 units of affordable housing and 5.5 million square feet of commercial space have been developed and more than 20,000 Chicago residents have been engaged in planning, provided training, or direct service to improve their quality of life.

For more information, visit www.lisc-cnda.org.


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