Owner of Parkway Gardens to Help Design and Build HOOD Project Community Center in Woodlawn

WOODLAWN – A South Side community organization led by a pastor who spent more than 100 days in a tent while raising money to build a community center near Parkway Gardens has announced the owner of the housing complex will help build the center.

Developer Related Midwest will donate “a wide range of services” in the areas of architecture, design and construction to the HOOD Project’s 85,000 square foot Leadership and Economic Opportunity Center project, they said. officials announced Friday.

The Woodlawn-based organization, founded by New Beginnings Church pastor Corey Brooks, estimates the value of the services at $2 million.

Brooks has been living in a tent above shipping containers at 6615 S. King Drive since Nov. 20 in an attempt to raise $35 million to build the community center.

Pastor’s “tent-a-thon” raised $10 million to Feb. 28, the 100th day of the campaign, according to the Sun-Times. Brooks first pledged to stay in the tent for 100 days, then extended his stay indefinitely.

Brooks did not respond to interview requests about his plans for the community center and his extended encampment.

The HOOD project has outgrown its existing space at New Beginnings, 6620 S. King Drive, and needs to “expand our footprint so that we can continue to meet the growing needs of the communities we serve,” according to a promotional brochure.

“Residents of Woodlawn deserve access to the same opportunities as those living on the North Side, including job skills development, entrepreneurship training, youth arts and sports programs, and safe places to play,” Brooks said in a statement Friday.

Plans for the center include a “social space” with after-school programs, Wi-Fi lounges; a business incubator; an ice cream parlor, a hamburger and a pizzeria; space for vocational training; a multimedia laboratory; a garden on the roof; a performing arts center; and a health and wellness center, among other amenities.

Residents of Parkway Gardens can get free community center memberships. To donate to the fundraising campaign, Click here.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Pastor Corey Brooks poses for a portrait as he spends more than 100 days atop shipping containers near the HOOD project in Woodlawn on March 3, 2022.

Associated Midwest President Curt Bailey and Vice President Don Biernacki spent a night with Brooks during the camp, they said.

“Pastor Brooks has a deep and inspiring commitment to his vision for a place that creates opportunity for individuals, youth and families in Woodlawn, and it is not possible to visit him on this rooftop and leave unchanged,” Biernacki said.

Brooks invited business leaders and public officials to join him on shipping containers throughout his campaign.

Former Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevitch spent the night of February 17, when rob schererfounder of nonprofit Comfort Cases and CEO of Adlai Pharmaceuticals William Stilley are among other guests who have stayed overnight in recent months.

The Midwest took over Parkway Gardens — the affordable housing complex on King Drive from 63rd and 65th Streets, just north of New Beginnings Church — in 2012. The developer put the complex up for sale last year before remove it from the market A little after.

Neighborhood leaders have long wondered why violence and poor living conditions are so prevalent in a complex owned by one of Chicago’s most active developers.

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Jill E. Washington