CHICAGO — Woodlawn Central LLC is moving forward with the development of Woodlawn Central, an $895 million mixed-use project spanning eight acres in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood. The development team recently hired Transwestern Real Estate Services as its commercial real estate services provider.
Woodlawn Central is poised to transform the area into a walkable, transit-oriented district with easy access to civic amenities such as the Obama Presidential Center, Jackson Park, the Museum of Science and Industry and the University of Chicago. Woodlawn’s Apostolic Church of God conceived and planned the project. The Network of Woodlawn, which was founded in 2009 to improve the neighborhood’s quality of life by building infrastructure to support better education, safety, health and economics, gave substantial input on the project.
In addition to 870 homes ranging from affordable workforce options to market rate, luxury and seniors housing, Woodlawn Central will support a diverse range of Black businesses, creators, innovators and residents with much-needed community assets. Plans call for a 154-room hotel, small performance theater, vertical greenhouse and microgrid energy facility. The retail, hospitality, cultural, service, tech and transit options have been planned to nurture black-owned businesses and generate employment opportunities for residents.
According to the development team, Woodlawn Central has been intentionally designed with assets that have the potential to change the systemic inequities and economic blight that have plagued the neighborhood for decades. The 2022 Community Data Snapshot from the Chicago Metropolitan Planning Agency shows that the residents in the area are more than 91 percent minority, and its median and per capita household income numbers are among the lowest in the city. Woodlawn residents also have the city’s lowest median net worth among all 77 of Chicago’s community areas.
“Woodlawn Central is not a straightforward mixed-use development. It carries weight far beyond its physical parameters and economics,” says Dr. Byron Brazier, pastor of the Apostolic Church of God. “This is an opportunity to not only make a major impact on the surrounding communities and break negative social and economic cycles, but to also set an example for transformative, community-generated development that can be repeated nationwide.”
J.C. Griffin of Transwestern’s Midwest capital markets group will serve as owner representative through all phases of the project, coordinating brokerage activities; marketing and research efforts; project capitalization and financing; and project/construction services. Griffin will report to J. Byron Brazier, the project sponsor and lead developer. In addition to J. Byron Brazier and Dr. Brazier, Woodlawn Central LLC comprises four other members with deep experience in economic development or philanthropy.
— Kristin Harlow