The past few months have flown by and there’s lots of progress to report!
One year ago we decided to apply lessons learned from the Bronzeville BikeBox, our bicycle-shop-in-a-shipping-container, to create multiple, shipping container-based retail spaces on the BikeBox site. The resulting "Boxville", Chicago's first street food market and container mall, has created a unique urban vibe, attracting thousands of shoppers and providing a retail platform for 60+ locally-owned enterprises this past summer. It also attracted a lot of external attention (see, e.g., here, here, and here).
This summer has also seen the blossoming of several key partnerships. We're partnering with Southwest Airlines and Chicago Cares to rebuild Bronzeville Community Garden, which included a number of temporary structures that have far outlived their expected lives. We’ve deepened our work with community institutions including Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC), Friends of 51st Street, and South East Chicago Commission (SECC). And we're pleased to be part of L-Evated Chicago, a collaboration focused on improving racial equity near Chicago's elevated train, which is part of the national Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) and has already supported our work to install a beautiful, large-scale community mural on 51st Street, directly opposite Bronzeville Community Garden.In addition, we have reached an agreement with City of Chicago to access their committed but non-disbursed Tax Increment Financing grant. This should allow us to continue our "bricks & mortar" culinary development on 51st Street in the first half of 2018.
Our work on 43rd Street - where we’re using cultural performance as the platform for neighborhood revitalization - is challenging. A major partner has not yet emerged. However, we’ve made good progress with The Forum, replacing a key floor and, just this past weekend, entertaining more than 1100 Open House Chicago visitors to Forum Hall with live performances, the first in the space in more than 4 decades.
It was a great end to the summer.
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