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.
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."
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!)
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
- (33 days)