Solid Auburn Gresham attracts new investment
Auburn Gresham is a predominately African-American middle class community located just nine miles from downtown Chicago. After two decades of residential flight and a few years of commercial disinvestment along the 79th Street retail strip, the community began to see a rebound in the late 1990s through the efforts of a new alderman, alliance of community organizations and investment from the city.
A community that developed from several settlements in the early 1900s, Auburn Gresham has always had a stable housing market. Despite the residential flight of the 1960s and 1970s, there has been very little housing loss. As of 2000, there were 19,955 housing units, 53 percent of them owner-occupied. The neighborhood has a high concentration of the famous and historic Chicago-style bungalow homes and many Victorian-era homes as well.
The area is seeing new retail and residential development along 79th Street, housing reinvestment on many streets and new housing construction in the Winneconna area. Auburn Gresham has recently seen the creation of 300 new housing units.
Community stakeholders have played an important role in the community’s growth and direction. Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church, Deborah Moore of NHS and Terry Peterson of the Chicago Housing Authority are all very active in the neighborhood. St. Sabina sponsors numerous social programs and keeps residents involved through organizing and advocacy.
In recent years, residents have banded together and taken action to change their community. A new police station at 78th and Halsted has helped to increase safety in the area, while new national retail outlets have broadened shopping options. A new senior housing complex and the Martin Luther King entertainment facility have given residents a sense of hope and pride that their community is heading in a new, better direction. Auburn Gresham has become more investor-friendly and the community is moving toward becoming a community of choice and destination for visitors.
While Auburn Gresham is not known for having much open space, the area does have Hamilton Park on west 72nd Street and the beautiful Auburn Park Lagoons at Winneconna Parkway and 79th Street. Surrounded by well-kept apartment buildings and greenery, the lagoons are a rare, peaceful oasis in the midst of urban Chicago.
Changing rapidly, while holding on to its core values, the Auburn Gresham community envisions itself as one of “Chicago’s best-kept secrets.”
Please click to see John McCarron's in-depth neighborhood profile from Re:New newsletter.