By Jonathan Lehrer
Communications Consultant to JCUA
With the aim of helping to revitalize the Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs is investing in a housing development that has Jewish roots.
Through its Community Ventures Program, JCUA is making a$100,000 zero-interest loan to Rosenwald Courts, a $110 million renovation project that will create 331 new units of housing, with 323 affordable units and 18 market rate units. The Chicago Tribune recently reported that the Chicago Community Development Commission is expected to consider earmarking up to $25 million in tax-increment financing (TIF) to back the project at a July 10 meeting.
The Community Development Commission voted July 10 to allow redevelopment to go forward. The plan still needs city council approval. See WBEZ’s coverage here.
See the Tribune’s original story here. Registration on the Tribune site may be required to read the article.
The name of the building is familiar to South Side residents, as well as members of the Jewish community and Chicago history buffs. Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932), was president of Sears, Roebuck and Company, at one point investing $21 million to bail out the company in the post-World War I recession.
Rosenwald devoted much of his life and more than $70 million of his personal wealth to philanthropy. Influenced by Jewish leaders, social activists and Booker T. Washington, Rosenwald became dedicated to improving the plight of African-Americans. He said this in 1911:
“The horrors that are due to race prejudice come home to the Jew more forcefully than to others of the white race, on account of the centuries of persecution which they have suffered and still suffer.”
Rosenwald invested $2.7 million in what was to become the Michigan Boulevard Apartments, a landmark 421-unit development that was built in 1921.(Rosenwald also was the major force behind creation of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.)