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The Chicago Community Trust Outstanding Community Strategy of the Year Award

Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives for the Pullman Revitalization Strategy

Revitalization of the Pullman neighborhood on the city’s Far South Side is occurring across so broad an area that it’s easy to underestimate the unified vision that is its driving force. But what’s happening — from the new Super Walmart along the I-94 Bishop Ford Expressway to the spectacular Kroc community center three miles away in West Pullman — is the fruit of a coherent-yet-comprehensive strategy ... and a whole lot of hard work.

At its center is Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI), a non-profit offshoot of U.S. Bank that has been working closely with Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) and organizations such as Mercy Housing and the Historic Pullman Foundation. The strategy’s centerpiece is the ongoing restoration of the Town of Pullman, the self-contained village built by railcar magnate George M. Pullman in the 1880s to house his workers close to the factory gate. Look for this piece — part artists’ colony, part affordable row houses — to hit overdrive if the White House elevates its status to that of a National Historic Park.

To the east, where I-94 skirts Lake Calumet, a more straightforward but no less impressive redevelopment is occurring on the sprawling, 180-acre site of a former steel mill. Following key infrastructure investments by the City, CNI’s Pullman Park first opened its Walmart and adjacent stores, then a modern enviro-friendly soap factory for Method Home Products, Inc., soon a Pullman Community Center recreation complex, and eventually, 1,100 homes covering a spectrum of architectural formats and price/ rental points.

Though CNI and U.S. Bank led the way at Pullman Park, redevelopment there and elsewhere in the neighborhood has been guided by an extensive, year-long planning process. Three public workshops and more than 65 meetings were held with community stakeholders to make sure the development honors the neighborhood and meets the goals of its residents.

“Building confidence in Pullman is at the core of all of CNI’s work,” says President David Doig. “There’s a broad base of public and private partners committed to the neighborhood. We’ve had the unwavering support of elected officials and, most significantly, committed residents who invest countless hours of time improving their community.”