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The Ashburn Community Center Project by Camryn Gosa
Developing a community center in Ashburn would have a positive impact on the community, offering programs to educate, renovate and unify the surrounding area. Looking at both map 1 and map 2, the area of the Ashburn community is very sparse concerning community centers. With that in mind, I believe building a community center in the vacant area by the corner of 77th & Kedzie would be a great asset to the Ashburn Community. The new center would bring the community together by allowing everyone in the surrounding area a place to relax, exercise and enjoy different forms of art. People in the Ashburn community will not have to travel far to do things they love. Looking at the large-scale map (map 2) of West Pullman, there is a high density/concentration of community centers/gyms in the area. The Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center is very popular and is located in the West Pullman community on 119th St. Traveling anywhere in Ashburn to the Kroc Center could take at least 40 mins. If there was a facility in Ashburn, it would shorten a person's commute time. According to Chicago Tribune, Rheem Manufacturing Company opened in 1941, on 7600 S. Kedzie Ave., but due to the lack of potential in the area, high manufacturing prices, and low employment rates, the company relocated factories to Mexico. By 1990, Rheem Manufacturing Company closed and the factory was torn down, leaving the lot vacant. There are a few factors that could help make building the community center a successful venture. The most important factor is the area is large and available. The community center could be built to accommodate a large number of people, located near an accessible bus route. Even though the new community center would not be centrally located, it would still be closer than any of the other surrounding community centers. As the racial demographics changed in the Ashburn community, the community was not properly invested in. Without investments, Ashburn has not been able to fill the vacant lot located at 7600 S Kedzie with another factory/company, stores, or more houses. The area left vacant by Rheem Manufacturing Company in 1990 has remained vacant, creating a scenario of urban decay. A more recent example of economic decline was the closing of a major grocery store, Ultra Foods, located at 87th and Kedzie. Having a vacant lot and empty stores does not look good for the community, which can give the appearance of a rundown area. After 25 years vacant, the City of Chicago built a high school on the lot, which helped reduce the overcrowding in the schools in the Ashburn area. Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, 7651 S Homan Ave., was the only improvement, still leaving a huge chunk of the vacant lot present. Adding a community center might encourage a diverse group of people to move into the Ashburn area.The Ashburn community desperately needs this project. It would help move the community in a more productive direction. The community center would create a space that would address the issue of positively impacting the area and the community. Secondly, the community center will bring everyone together under one roof where they can relax, exercise, play, and enjoy different art forms. From 1994 to now, the vacant lot has done nothing but keep the community from becoming a vibrant neighborhood. The community center will increase the value of the community, erasing some of the urban decay, and making the community become a nice neighborhood to live in. I built a 3D model, displayed in the short video, to visually show that the building's design is not only functional but also beautiful.