Jazz on the Boulevard is an important factor in the resurgence of Drexel Boulevard, itself part of the City of Chicago’s historic Burnham Plan street system. Nearly half a century ago, existing buildings on full city blocks of the boulevard were removed for the reaction of the monolithic Lakefront Homes public housing development. Lakefront’s buildings were positioned in direct conflict with the street orientation of the historic buildings and over time, the adjacent blocks deteriorated and were eventually demolished. In 1999, the Chicago Housing Authority’s $1.4 Billion ‘Plan for Transformation’ created the opportunity to reintroduce appropriately-scaled and positioned buildings to the historic streetscape FitzGerald was fortunate to work alongside a very involved Alderman, who played a critical part in the resurrection of the Kenwood neighborhood.
Similar to other Hope VI revitalization projects, the $18 Million mixed-income project combines public, subsidized affordable and market-rate housing units. On this site, homes are provided in low-rise townhouses, flats and duplexes for a total of 137 one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. For these types of projects, the field experience suggests the potential for a demographic shift: “It’s breaking up some of the de-facto segregation in this area,” says James Wilson of the Chicago Department of Planning & Development. For a neighborhood with a past steeped in racial and economic segregation, Jazz on the Boulevard contributes to a bold new chapter.