Rise of 63rd Street continues with plan for $48 million ‘Woodlawn Social’

With the Obama Presidential Center rising to the east and the redevelopment of the 63rd and Cottage Grove intersection, it seems as if a new era for the street is finally at hand.

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Woodlawn Social, a $48 million development, is planned for 63rd Street between Ingleside and Greenwood avenues.

City of Chicago

It’s good to see new development coming to the Woodlawn community’s East 63rd Street.

Once among Chicago’s storied commercial strips, 63rd Street was virtually vacant between Stony Island and Cottage Grove avenues by the start of this century, having been picked clean by decades of disinvestment, demolition and the 1990s mistake of ripping down the L tracks that once ran above the street.

A new 70-unit, $48 million mixed-income residential development announced this month and planned for city-owned vacant lots on East 63rd between Ingleside and Greenwood avenues is a potentially welcome addition to the street.

The plan developed by the group Preservation of Affordable Housing and private developer KMW includes a 60-unit, six-story, affordable rental building. A separate four-story building with 10 for-sale, market-rate townhomes is also planned.

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The masonry-clad buildings will have solar panels and rooftop gardens. Construction is expected to begin next year.

The development, called “Woodlawn Social” — which sounds more like a Victorian tea party than the name of a development — was among three competing proposals for the sites.

The winning bid “was selected for its highly creative approach to urban placemaking and locally driven programming that creates a focal point for future growth along 63rd Street,” city Department of Planning Commissioner Maurice Cox said in a statement.

“This project is a victory for Woodlawn residents who are working to expand affordable housing options for local families,” 20th Ward Ald. Jeanette Taylor said. “Although we have much more work to do, we are excited to activate this vacant lot that has been unused for more than 40 years.”

There are more empty lots to fill along 63rd Street. But with the Obama Presidential Center rising east of the Woodlawn Social site, and the redevelopment of the 63rd and Cottage Grove intersection just to the west, it seems as if a new era for the street is finally at hand.

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