Built in the mid-1960s, the Grand Prix apartments on Seventh Street in Riverside’s Eastside neighborhood have clearly seen better days.
The seafoam-green paint is peeling from the wood trim on the boxy, flat-roofed building, and the kidney-shaped pool was long ago filled with dirt that has sprouted weeds. Now vacant and boarded up, the complex is weeks from being demolished, the first big step in a city plan to improve the neighborhood officials call Chicago/Linden because it’s near that intersection.
Within two years, the Grand Prix and two other apartment buildings on the block will be replaced by an affordable housing complex that will have something for the community – a public garden, children’s play area or a child care facility. It’s part of an estimated $16.8 million strategy to make the area safer and more attractive for those who live there.
Fixing up the area, which lies between Chicago and Dwight avenues and West Linden and Seventh streets, has been a priority for city officials since 2006, housing project coordinator Shonda Herold said.
The overall strategy, created by a consultant with community input, includes installing new landscaping and more streetlights, improving driveways and alleys, reopening two cul-de-sacs that have become places for loitering, and building a community center at Patterson Park that could offer library programs, a commercial kitchen for public use, and activities for youths and seniors.
Officials expect the process of building community support and involvement to take time, just as finding money and fixing buildings will. Councilman Andy Melendrez, who represents the area, said he’s heard mostly positive feedback and excitement about plans for the neighborhood. He said he knows making the plans a reality is “not anything that’s going to happen from one year to the next.”
Transforming old spaces into new places throughout the city is what makes Riverside a location of choice. With the mission to improve quality of life in Riverside, our community takes pride on maintaining it’s well defined, welcoming neighborhoods.
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