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The Burnham – Latest Development in Woodlawn Transformation

By: Gordon Walek
Published: November 2, 2015

The Burnham at Woodlawn Park, a new 65-unit affordable senior apartment building at 61st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, is the latest phase of Preservation of Affordable Housing's replacement of the old Grove Parc Apartments. 

Photos by Gordon Walek

In what’s becoming a regular occurrence, residents, developers and city officials gathered in Woodlawn in late October to celebrate the completion of another real estate project that’s transforming South Cottage Grove Avenue into a handsome thoroughfare.

The occasion was the official opening of The Burnham at Woodlawn Park, a new five-story red and tan brick building that includes 65 affordable apartments for seniors and new offices for the Woodlawn Resource Center, which provides employment services, income supports and financial and digital literacy for neighborhood residents through LISC Chicago’s network of Financial Opportunity Centers. 

The Burnham, at 61st Street and Cottage Grove, is but one piece of the Woodlawn Park development, which has essentially replaced the troubled Grove Parc Apartments, a 504-unit Section 8-based complex that had been plagued by years of mismanagement and neglect.

Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), an affordable housing developer, has demolished the old Grove Parc buildings and is replacing them in phases with new, mixed-income properties, of which the $24.3 million Burnham is the latest. So far, POAH has developed more than 400 new apartments along and near the Cottage Grove corridor, just south of the University of Chicago campus and north of the terminus of the Chicago Transit Authority Green Line 

Residents of The Burnham, who began moving in last summer, said they’re pleased with the new accommodations.

“It’s beautiful,” said Linda Eastes, 55, sitting with friends in the sun-drenched lobby. She ticked off the amenities – the fitness room, the social activities, the resource center, the GED classes, the garden ablaze in fall colors. “They keep us busy.” 

“I think all the tenants love it,” said Ralph N. Bunch, 63, another veteran of the neighborhood. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us.” 

Linda Eastes and Ralph N. Bunch, to her immediate right, are among the long-time Woodlawn residents who are pleased with their new apartments in The Burnham.

LISC Chicago has been a key partner in the entire Woodlawn Park development.  A $5 million LISC line of credit gave POAH invaluable early flexibility in financing property acquisition, tenant relocation, demolition and myriad pre-development expenses, from architect’s fees to utility hookups. And The Burnham, designed by architects Landon Bone Baker, used $1.7 million of that LISC credit line to put together a feasible deal, attracting JPMorgan Chase to provide construction and permanent mortgage financing. 

The impact of Woodlawn Park is better seen than described. Between The Burnham on the west side of Cottage Grove, The Grant, directly across the street, the nearby Jackson, and the Academic and Squash Center just north of the Burnham, the street has a distinct and positive sensibility. Anyone who’s not been on Cottage Grove between 60th and 63rd streets in the last few years couldn’t fail to be impressed by the physical improvements. Stay tuned for the next phase, which includes more apartments.

Photos from The Burnham opening ceremony on October 22, 2015...

Posted in Areas of Work, Neighborhoods

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Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.

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