Morgan Park Commons
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Far South Quality of Life plan by Far South Community Coalition and its partners was to identify neighborhood goals, opportunities, and actions to fulfill resident desires and aspirations for the future. This plan identified two focal projects to become catalysts for future development and attract private investment to the community. LJC supported LISC and Far South Community Coalition in creating a public engagement process that envisioned the two focal projects, identified sites, and developed renderings that illustrated their vision.
In 2021, LISC and the Far South Community Coalition completed the first Quality of Life Plan (QLP) for this southside community area in Chicago. This document created a vision, goals, and implementation plan for three priority topic areas: community care, upward mobility, and resilient health and business centers. The QLP collaborative also identified and prioritized specific impact areas for implementation. These impact areas included communication and collaboration, housing, economic development, and community self-care and mental health. The confluence of both the topic areas and impact areas led to the development of two focal projects that would be catalysts for building momentum towards realizing the potential of the community. The two focal projects were a Performing and Culinary Arts Incubator and Grocery Store and Shopping Area. The preferred site for the grocery store is 130th and St. Lawrence, including fresh food and a food hall for local entrepreneurs. The performing and culinary arts center will anchor the 119th and South Halsted St. corner, directly across the street from Major Taylor Trail, a regional trail system. The arts center will be the first of its kind on the south side and will collaborate with City Colleges and area performing arts organizations to teach, train, and skill build on the city’s far south side. As a gateway to the Calumet River and African-American Heritage Trail, the arts center will be a destination and attract from the region.
LISC and the City of Chicago’s early involvement in the project created a structure for successfully implementing the two focal projects. They bring much-needed amenities to two underresourced areas of the city – providing fresh food in a food desert and culinary and performing arts to improve the health and wellness of the community. Both projects are located primarily in African-American communities with below-average health outcomes and household incomes. Improved access to transportation through transit and bike trails, fresh food sources within walking distance from dense and low-income residential areas, and skill-building opportunities can profoundly impact current and future community members. The focal projects position the community for a stronger, more resilient, and equitable future.
Once completed, these two projects will increase economic development opportunities, enhance local buying power for small businesses, and generate commerce in areas that would indirectly improve educational institutions, public parks, road and utility infrastructures, and spur development. Click here to review the entire Quality of Life Plan.