Park Service Designation Could Hold Keys to Sustainable Community

CHICAGO— The Bronzeville Community Development Partnership (BCDP) today called for the Illinois Congressional delegation and the incoming Pritzker administration to help petition the National Park Service to designate the Bronzeville community a National Heritage Area (NHA). The NHA designation would stimulate more of the public-private partnerships that BCDP has used to advance its grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and build a sustainable energy economy. BCDP and supporters issued the appeal as U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, IL Treasurer Mike Frerichs and U.S. Reps Bobby Rush and Danny Davis, all slated to appear at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo.

With an NHA designation, the Bronzeville community will gain permanent recognition by the federal government of its storied history and significant contributions to American history. According to BCDP founder Paula Robinson, “The ultimate goal of the NHA is to focus on economic development and tourism. Legislation would be introduced to create, recognize and help fund the Black Metropolis National Heritage Area.” Such recognition and financial investment would help nationalize the story of Black Metropolis and efforts by community leaders and activists to preserve Bronzeville as a sustainable international African American heritage tourism destination.

“The multitude of contributions to American culture that grew out of Chicago’s Bronzeville in the 20th century are well-documented,” adds Robinson. “As are our contemporaneous efforts to transform our community into its new position as the Chicago area’s Innovation Metropolis.”  In July 2017, the Chicago Department of Planning & Development chose a development consortium known as GRIT – which partners BCDP with Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Farpoint Development, Draper & Kramer and Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives to redevelop the abandoned Michael Reese Hospital property located along Chicago’s lakefront. The development will be a centerpiece of BCDP efforts to transform the area into a tech-centered, sustainable energy economy.

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