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Outstanding Non-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project

While building green and creating transit-oriented development have become the mantras of progressive city planners, most envision such developments in new or affluent neighborhoods or in relatively new cities. Yet it is on a neglected intersection of the West Side of Chicago where one of the finest examples of such sustainable and smart building exists, created by one of the city’s best known and long-lived development organizations, Bethel New Life.

For more than 25 years the fates of Bethel New Life and Garfield Park have been intertwined, with Bethel New Life, most often at the center of the neighborhood struggles, first for preservation, and now for wide-ranging redevelopment. From the beginning, Bethel New Life has been the leader in delivering strong programming and innovative development to build on the assets of the community. The Bethel Center continues that tradition of smart investments for smart growth.

A co-development with Matanky Realty Group, the Bethel Center is a 23,000 square foot, two story, green-roofed building sitting on a former brownfield site in the heart of Garfield Park which provides both physical and social sustainability to the neighborhood.

On the ground floor are six commercial retail shops, including a Subway Restaurant and local dry cleaners – operated by local residents – and a financial services center operated by First Bank of Oak Park and Thrivent Financial. On the upper level is Bethel’s Childcare Development Center, Employment Services Center and community computer lab, all services that meet specific community needs. The Center also provides direct access to the Green Line “el” stop through a connective bridge.

Hailed as a national model of sustainable development, this innovative project is the winner of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Outstanding Non-Profit Real Estate Project.