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825 West 69th Street is a vacant 100-year-old building in Englewood that we are restoring to house a community cafe.
825 West 69th Street is a vacant 100-year-old building in Englewood that we are restoring to house a community cafe.
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242 backers pledged $25,881 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$25,881

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Currently down to the studs, over the next 3 months, [re]create L3C will transform the ground floor of this building, located in an under-resourced Chicago neighborhood with few businesses or public spaces, into a creative, inspiring space that will house the Kusanya Cafe.

About Englewood

Context (location) really gives this project a different character than it would otherwise have.  The restoration of the building and repurposing it to house a community cafe would be a great undertaking just about anywhere, but here, it takes on an almost whimsical quality.  We love our neighborhood - and hope you learn to love it a little bit too through this project.

Englewood has a rich past, but has fallen on hard times.  At the time of the 2010 census, Englewood was recorded as having 30,000 residents.  The neighborhood has seen a great decrease in commercial business and many of the schools are under-performing.  The median household income is now under $20,000. 

From the Kusanya Cafe's website:
"Despite its past racial and economic struggles Englewood has strong residents who desire to see change in the neighborhood.  Many people have chosen to stay, and are seeking to build a better/safer/stronger neighborhood through block clubs and charitable organizations, but resources and manpower are still in short supply.  Vacant commercial and residential lots litter the streets and very few local gathering places exist leaving many to live life on their own private islands in Englewood.

We hope through this cafe to bring together these resources so that we can rebuild our neighborhood ourselves and enrich the lives of our residents."

About [re]create

[re]create L3C (a low-profit LLC - a "for-profit company with a non-profit soul") was founded on the belief that physical space, used creatively, has the power to transform.  We acquired this vacant building (that was previously on the demolition list) with a vision to restore it to its former beauty and return it to productive use in the community. We see this work as Design to it's very core, because we are passionate about designing the building well not just aesthetically and environmentally, but also in terms of use.  We are passionate about inciting folks to dream about what the space can hold, and then developing uses for the various spaces which are unconventional, productive, engaging, and additionally, complement one another such that each of them is more effective.  We believe that ventures that would typically not be thought of as viable in an impoverished neighborhood will be viable in the context of this building, as those ventures benefit from one another as resources brought together under one roof.  [re]create will not run programming on its own, but instead will partner with strategic organizations, businesses, and people who will inhabit and use the space to its greatest potential.  The first of these organizations is the Kusanya Cafe, which has a beautiful vision of bringing a public gathering place back to the neighborhood.

Why back this project?

We hope this project is inspiring and draws you into participating all on its own.  But if we had to answer the question, we'd say: back it because you like seeing old buildings preserved, because you believe in redemption rather than deterioration, because you want to bring some positivity to a neighborhood where few entities choose to invest, because you want to participate in creating something beautiful.

About the Pledge Incentives & Collaborators

The building will ultimately be used by a litany of people in a variety of ways - by neighbors as a place to be, by artists as a place to display, by businesspeople as a place to work.  Quite a few of those stakeholders in the space have donated their talents to provide the incentives you see to the right.  Together, all of those people are our Collaborating artists, bakers, businesspeople, etc. 

Feel free to combine incentives or choose multiples.  Simply add the additional cost to your pledge amount. 

About the Funding/Project Cost

Ultimately, building out a commercial space costs more than the $25,000 goal (about $75,000, to be precise).  The remainder of the funding is coming from investors and lenders.  Any amount raised above and beyond the $25,000 will be used to begin paying off those debts and building out other spaces in the building.  

What about the rest of the building?

If you noted from the brief photos shown in the video that this building is larger than a single storefront, you're absolutely correct.  The building is actually 8 units: 3 commercial/retail spaces and 5 apartments.  The remainder of the building will be designed to house similarly creative and inspiring businesses, tenants, and projects.  This will come in time and will be a labor of love over the long haul. 

The Progress / Timeline So Far

2008-2012 Lauren (project creator) moved to Chicago (Englewood); spent a few years working/volunteering in the neighborhood; developed a deep desire to restore buildings in the neighborhood and facilitate creative use of those spaces; became a real estate broker; and created a garden in the courtyard her apartment complex - all prior to founding [re]create in August 2012; acquiring the building, then, quitting her job in real estate to manage the renovation of 825 West 69th Street full time.

August-October [re]create garnered the necessary initial investment and then concluded the acquisition of the building on October 25, 2012.  

October-November work begins on the building -  demolition and cleanup, and securing the building.  [re]create retained a general contractor to complete the buildout, scheduled for January-March 2013. 

December [re]create partnered with See Potential & the Kusanya Cafe to install large-scale documentary photography on the building, which will remain in place until the buildout is complete and the building is occupied.  (See Potential is a former Kickstarter project!)

Street-level view of the corner windows before the photography installation
Street-level view of the corner windows before the photography installation
After the installation, the building itself is much more engaging to all who encounter it!
After the installation, the building itself is much more engaging to all who encounter it!

Risks and challenges

There are many challenges inherent in this project, primarily in the form of potential delays. Because we have to coordinate many different parties in order to accomplish the renovation (city, contractors, attorneys/admin, financing), there are many different points where delays can and will happen. We have already conquered the first monumental task (the acquisition of the building) which hit many delays along the way; this second phase of the project is likely to face similar challenges. However, as we were able to do in phase 1, we are committed to facing those challenges, rolling with the punches, exercising some creative problem-solving, calling on our network and resources, and continuing on with the project nonetheless.

In case you're curious, here's how our total development budget for this phase of the project breaks down:
$20,000 - Plumbing (all new plumbing for the Cafe, new drain pipes and supply in basement, salvage of existing vent pipes, rough-in plumbing for apartment directly above the Cafe)
$20,000 - Electrical (new 600 amp service from pole to building, new electrical for Cafe, rough-in electrical for apartment directly above the Cafe)
$7,000 - HVAC (new commercial Heater/air conditioner suspended in the Cafe, new duct work)
$3,000 - Finish work in the Cafe (drywall, tiling, etc)
$5,000 - Safety measures (building a railing around the deep wells which house the basement exits, replace basement staircase, build exit from 2nd story apartment, etc)
$5,000 Security Measures (lighting, security doors for basement, security gates for exterior doors, secure storefront windows for construction period, remove minor graffiti, etc)
$5,000 Sealing (seal/wrap wood around all exterior windows, patch one hole in roof, seal around doorframes, insulate the one remaining boarded up storefront, finish minor tuckpointing, etc)
$3,000 - Carrying costs of insurance, taxes, interest, etc.
$2,000 - Minor demolition and cleanup
$5,000 - Art and creative projects (Mural, salvaging and re-purposing wood and metal, community engagement through window installations, etc)
Total = $75,000

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Our gratitude!

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    A drink at the Kusanya Cafe once open. If you would like donate the drink to be passed on to a neighborhood resident, we welcome that. Also, a shout-out on facebook for supporting the project!

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Ticket to an exclusive pre-opening party at the Kusanya Cafe. [+ shout-out on facebook]

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Bag of locally-roasted coffee (12 oz). [+ shout-out on facebook] Add $10 to add a ticket to the pre-opening party, or $5 if you need the coffee shipped.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Kusanya Cafe t-shirt. [+ shout-out on facebook] Add $10 to add a ticket to the pre-opening party.

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    28 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Your own piece of the building! Salvage wood with "[re]create" or the Kusanya logo painted on it. [+ ticket to pre-opening party, shout-out on facebook] Add $5 if you need this shipped.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    A professional 8x10 print of the building or of an image by one of our collaborating artists. [+ ticket to pre-opening party, shout-out on facebook]

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    15 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Your name on a wall in the building. [+ ticket to pre-opening party, shout-out on facebook]

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    23 backers
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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A drink or sandwich named after you (or named by you) in the Kusanya Cafe for one month. [+ ticket to pre-opening party, shout-out on facebook]

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    Reward no longer available 12 backers
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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    Your favorite inspirational quote painted on the outside of the building. (Subject to approval) [+ ticket to the pre-opening party, shout-out on facebook]

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    Reward no longer available 5 backers
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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Original art by one of our collaborating artists/creators (please inquire for details!). [+ ticket to pre-opening party, shout-out on facebook]

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    The Barista Experience. Ever want to try your hand at making your favorite espresso drinks on professional equipment? Come get trained by the best in brewing techniques, milk steaming, and pulling great shots of espresso. Sample your creations as you go, and leave with a t-shirt to boot. [+ ticket to pre-opening party, shout-out on facebook]

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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Combo! Choose your favorite combination of previous rewards that add up to approximately this amount. (Just checkin to see if you're paying attention - you can actually do this at any amount.)

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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Private event space after-hours (8-10pm) at the Kusanya Cafe for up to 20 people. A staff member will serve coffee/tea for everyone as well as the day's remaining pastries.

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  15. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Your organization's ad on our billboard for one month. (Billboard will be located directly above the Cafe and faces 69th Street, Eastbound. Subject to approval - positive messages!)

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  16. Select this reward

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Well, wow. You just funded half of our Kickstarter. Since this amount of money actually gives us a jump start on finishing the REST of the building, you can have one of the apartments to use as your summer home/winter home/storage space/whatever you like for 3 months! OR to be REALLY AMAZING... You can donate 6 months of lodging to someone who could use it (we're happy to find someone!) [+ ANY of the other rewards]

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Funding period

- (33 days)