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Outstanding Non-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project: Renaissance Center Apartments & Fitness for Life Center

"This is another milestone in the rebirth of the Bronzeville community," said Mayor Richard M. Daley as he stood with community leaders and residents on March 31, 2001 to celebrate the transformation of the historic Wabash YMCA from a crumbling, abandoned building into an architectural jewel of the South Side neighborhood. It was at that moment that the five- story brick structure at 3763 S. Wabash Ave., which had provided shelter and recreation to thousands of African Americans who came to Chicago between 1912 and 1950, was officially unveiled as the Renaissance Center Apartments and Fitness for Life Center.

The SRO facility is composed of 101 rooms, each with a kitchenette and bath for its low- income residents, and a 27,000- square- foot life/ fitness recreational center, operated by the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, which is available to the entire community. The life/ fitness area includes a gymnasium, weight room, computer room, and a magnificently restored ballroom that houses a mural depicting African-American life in the 1930s that was created during the Depression by William Edward Scott and financed by the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA). The painstaking restoration of the Wabash Y, a national historic landmark constructed in 1912, is a fitting tribute to what was the first YMCA to assist growing numbers of African Americans who migrated north in search of better jobs and better housing.

The Renaissance Collaborative, Inc., a community development corporation formerly known as The Wabash "Y" Renaissance Corp., assembled the development team, worked with the architect, general contractor and consultants throughout the development process, and secured the funding for the $10.4 million renovation. Financing was provided by public and private-sector partners including the Chicago Department of Housing, Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and a number of private supporters, foundations and individuals.