A new $20 million recreation center to be built at Near West Side Addams/Medill Park will serve the Pilsen, University Village and Little Italy neighborhoods. The park will also get $5 million in outdoor renovations. | Provided photos, rendering

New rec center expected to bring Near West Side communities together

SHARE New rec center expected to bring Near West Side communities together
SHARE New rec center expected to bring Near West Side communities together

A new $25 million recreation center is coming to the Near West Side home of the Pilsen, University Village and Little Italy neighborhoods, the city is set to announce Thursday.

The Addams Recreation Center,a $20 million, 100,000-square-foot multi-purpose indoor facility, is to be built at 1301 W. 14th St., at the Chicago Park District’s Addams/Medill Park.

The 9.24-acre park would additionally see $5 million in outdoor improvements, including a natural turf baseball field; artificial turf combination field for baseball, football, lacrosse, and soccer; a walking path around the park, and landscape and lighting.

“A facility like that would totally be an amazing addition to any neighborhood, but especially ours,” said Alex Anaya, founder and executive director of ABC Pilsen Athletics, a youth organization centered on academics, basketball and community service in predominantly Hispanic Pilsen.

“I think it will help with curbing the violence. If kids are busy and doing something that they like, they’re definitely staying out of trouble, and I’m hoping it will be able to host some community programming,” said Anaya, who currently borrows space at Cristo Rey High School.

The new center, expected to open in December 2019, will include an indoor track, artificial turf field, basketball courts and several multi-purpose community rooms.

The cost of the public-private project is divvied up between the city, park district and Chicago Housing Authority, and two private donors, the Inner City Education and Recreation Foundation, which which is kicking in $5 million, and Exelon Corp., $3 million.

“This is a major investment for the city in an underserved area, exactly what public-private partnerships should be about. We could not get there on our own, and the private and non-profit sector stepped up in a big way,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

“If you draw a circumference around the new rec center, you have about 10 to 15 high schools and thousands of kids. What I like about it, and the aldermen too, is that this is going to bring kids from several different communities together in one location, offering athletic and academic activities, and safety,” Emanuel said.

The new recreation facility follows other recently announced investments to the Near West Side area, including a joint project of CHA and the Chicago Public Library at the 120-acre, mixed-income Roosevelt Square development. That project will see a new library branch open in winter 2018, and 40 to 50 units of housing expected to draw about 7,500 new residents.

Others in Pilsen echoed Emanuel on the positive nature of the project to bring diverse communities together. Little Italy’s population is an almost even mix of white, Asian and black, as is University Village.

“I think it’s going to be positive, given it’s location. It’s in very close proximity to the Pilsen community, and in a sense, one would say it will extend the community boundaries to take advantage of this asset being built here,” said Raul Raymundo, CEO of the Resurrection Project, a community development organization in Pilsen.

“I think the center will offer a safe space where people of different race and ethnicity will come together, just as the Costco at 15th and Ashland did when that came here a few years ago,” he said.

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