Oakwood Shores Update


Construction at Oakwood Shores. Photo by Jacqueline Thompson.

The Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation is showing up in a BIG way on the grounds that used to be the Ida B. Wells Homes public housing development. There is even a new name assigned to the area, Oakwood Shores, yet to some people, the area will always have a tag – that’s where the Ida B. Wells Homes used to be. But never mind that, the Plan has erased the old worn buildings with more thoughtfully built accommodations. For instance, the fabulous new senior citizen building at 3750 S. Cottage Grove Avenue which opened in the fall of 2011, complete with solar panels and an interior solarium for in-door/out-door visiting with easy chair seating, is a work of art in terms of its interior design.

If anyone should ever have an opportunity to visit and view this building, take it. If you want to stay, however, it is fully occupied with a long waiting list. In the spring of 2013, another very notable building is on the verge of opening directly across the street from the senior building at 3755 S. Cottage Grove. This will bring an exciting, new as it can get addition to community dwelling. This building will have solar panels too, a balcony for each apartment, and family units of one, two and three bedrooms. This six-story edifice will be a true milestone as it will include an outpatient clinic operated by Mercy Hospital on the first two floors.

While on a routine visit to my doctor at Mercy’s main building recently, I learned from him that some of the services at the new senior building will be pediatrics, primary care and X-Rays. The four upper residential floors, all 64 units, are rented out and the building is scheduled to be completely filled by the last of June.

The building also has private, off-the-street parking and a pocket park with benches set aside just for relaxing only, no basketball or other rigorous activity. Oakwood Shores has ample outdoor play areas not just for children but also for adults, who can appreciate the lawn area on Langley and Ellis Park on the north perimeter of the area, which does have a baseball diamond, basketball hoops and a playground.

Meanwhile, this spring, more modern housing will be built as part of phase 2D, much of which is just about finished and ready for occupancy along 38th Place on the south side of the street east of Cottage Grove. Crossing Cottage Grove to the west between Langley and Vincennes, there is more resident housing which is scheduled to open for occupancy in July.

At the April 23 Oakwood Shores resident neighborhood meeting, Lee Pratter of The Community Builders, the Boston-based private company which manages Oakwood Shores, informed those attending that in June 2013, there will be a grand opening event to officially unveil all the new finished buildings. Pratter added that construction will continue on certain designated empty plots where the work is scheduled to be completed by November 2013.

Oakwood Shores is one of the Chicago Housing Authority’s ‘Mixed Income Communities,’ with single family dwellings, condominiums and subsidized rentals. You will never know the difference because there is no reference to who is who during open neighborhood meetings. It doesn’t matter. If it does come up, it is usually something the lease holder, condominium owner, or home owner themselves wants to reveal. There is not much of that at all.

During the summer, you will see children walking to and from the opportunities to engage in play in the Park and or going to engage in carefully planned activities at the community life programs sponsored by The Community Builders. All Oakwood Shores families are invited to join them for a wide variety of activities to experience an unforgettable summer. The offices and activity rooms are located close by and in walking distance of every family. The community life managers are professional and are open to suggestions for programs that will enhance the lives of the residents. They encourage each family’s participation in educational opportunities for adults and children.

The Alderman’s Report

At a recent, regular Fourth Ward community meeting, our hard-working alderman, Will Burns, gladly reported that a series of long-awaited crosswalks have been installed from the north at 37th Street and Vincennes Avenue to the south across 39th Street and from east to west along this route. These crosswalks have the new, thick rectangular stripes that are designed to be very visible to everyone, especially our children and passing motorists. For sure, the community is safer for this job.

Another very welcome bit of news development from the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is that the Gospel Music Festival will be coming to Ellis Park again this year. I asked the alderman at the meeting to mention to the audience that the guests who attended the last year’s event in Ellis Park behaved very well. I was very proud of our community as we welcomed the general public into our midst.


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