Pritzker announces state funding for 4 Chicago-area projects

A massive community center slated to break ground in June in the North Austin neighborhood is among the Rebuild Illinois projects.

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A rendering of a community center scheduled to break ground in the North Austin neighborhood in June.

A rendering of a community center scheduled to break ground in the North Austin neighborhood in June.

Provided

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday announced a series of construction projects around Illinois that will receive an infusion of state money to help get off the ground, including several in the Chicago area.

In the North Austin neighborhood, a massive community center planned for construction on 10 acres of vacant land will get a $1.5 million grant. The money will be used to lay plumbing and electrical work when construction begins in June.

A total of $11 million was handed out to help 11 projects statewide. The spending is part of Pritzker’s “Rebuild Illinois” capital plan that’s put money toward upgrading everything from community colleges to roads and bridges.

Donnita Travis, executive director of By the Hand, a nonprofit that runs afterschool programs, is leadingthe Austin community center project.

“There’s nothing like. It will be a 140,000-square-footsports, educational and wellness center with indoor and outdoor turf fields and basketball courts and space for the arts and much more that will be for everyone in the community,” she said.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford said he hopes the project will be a counterweight for folks in his community who may be unsettled about “the other biggest construction project in the neighborhood — the city’s new police academy.”

Ford pointed to long-standing tension and distrust by some in the community toward police.

“Now we’re also building something that will hopefully make policing less necessary,” he said.

The Chicago Housing Authority will receive $760,000 to help rehab the Carver Park field house adjacent to the Altgeld Gardens housing complex on the Far South Side.

Pritzker also said a total of $1.5 million was being given to the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corp. to help fund a new transportation, distribution and logistics hub in Alsip on the site of a former refinery.

And the village of Calumet Park is receiving $1.5 million to help make a 6 acre slice of village-owned land, which is adjacent to a Metra stop, attractive for transit-oriented mixed use development. The land at 12357 S. Ashland Ave. is on the site of a former mobile home park.

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