Details have been revealed for a new community center at 1600 S Sawyer Avenue in North Lawndale. Located on the southwest corner with W 16th Street a few blocks west of Douglass Park, the new project will replace a vacant lot and offer neighbors new opportunities. Chicago-based Duo Development is leading the project with Canopy Architecture and McKay Landscape Architects working on its design.
Duo Development was started by Mexico-born brothers Carlos and Rafael Robles, both designers who produce spaces which uplift disinvested communities, with designs guided by local input. Dubbed the Starling Community Center, this will be the group’s first venture into this project type and they are currently accepting feedback via their website to finalize the future programming of the center.
Occupying 2,500 square feet of the 3,750-square-foot site which once held a laundromat, the one-story structure will use modular design to allow the spaces within to be relatively flexible. A large concrete pad will serve as the foundation with the building massing creating pocket plazas shaded by a canopy above. Inside the only permanent tenant currently in play is Monday Coffee Co. with a potential sound booth, library, and arts space being considered as other uses.
Accessible by the CTA Pink Line at Kedzie station as well as CTA bus service for Routes 16 and 52 within a short walk, the Starling Center will give users a safe space to do everyday activities as well as to gather for larger meetings. With an estimated cost of $1 million, the group hopes to collect $100,000 via crowdsourcing after receiving $150,000 from the Chicago Community Trust, $250,000 from the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, and applied to others in hopes of opening by the end of 2024.