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New Williams Park fieldhouse among slated Bronzeville projects

This rendering of a proposed fieldhouse at Williams Park was released by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office. | STL Architects

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday announced a series of investments in the Bronzeville neighborhood Tuesday, including a new park district fieldhouse and community center.

The 10,000-square-foot facility in Williams Park is expected to feature a half-court gym and multi-purpose club rooms that could be used for meetings, exercise or various performances, according to the mayor’s office.

Investments in neighborhood amenities, such as better parks, libraries and grocery stores, among other things — help create neighborhoods, Emanuel said.

“For many many years, people were just doing housing,” Emanuel said at a news conference announcing the projects. “Housing without a park district facility, housing without a library, without a neighborhood library, housing without transportation … is just housing.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday touted several new projects in the Bronzeville neighborhood. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

But “when you put all those pieces together,” you draw new residents, he said. “You’re actually building a neighborhood in the investments in the community. . . . It’s not a surprise, when you see all those investments . . . that you see a Mariano’s, businesses, coffeehouses and restaurants coming in, galleries that are coming in.”

Emanuel also revealed details on renovations to the Chicago Bee Library branch, 3647 S. State St., which will offer new spaces for youth and adult programming.

That library branch takes its name from the landmark building that houses it. The library is in the space once occupied by the Chicago Bee, a weekly newspaper published in Bronzeville from 1925 to 1947. The branch library opened there in 1996.

Among the new spaces being added are YOUmedia, where teens can work in digital media and mentors can help them explore potential careers.

Contributing: Stefano Esposito, Fran Spielman