posted by chicago pop
47th Street: Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
Today's Tribune reports that higher-ups are finally starting to wonder what ever happened to Muntu's performing arts center that was supposed to go up on 47th Street eight years after it received millions in grants and pledges and the official go-ahead.
Eight years ago, the nonprofit Muntu Dance Theatre secured more than $6 million in city and state grants, rights to the two-acre property for $1, and cash donations from the likes of ComEd and Boeing to build a $15 million performing arts center.
At the time, the project came with the blessings of local leaders who hoped to not only turn around the fortunes of an area littered with liquor stores and boarded-up buildings, but help restore a piece of Bronzeville's historic luster.
But Muntu could not demonstrate it could pay for the project, leading the city to later rescind its $1.75 million grant offer, said Pete Scales, spokesman for the city's budget office. Now the state has called a special meeting Wednesday to see what happened to the $4.5 million it granted the dance company. [video clip here]
It will be interesting to learn how this latest of Hyde Park Kenwood white elephants came about. For now, it makes a sad bookend with the old Co-Op space a few blocks to the east. Odds are, Muntu's story may wind up sounding a lot like the sad history of the Co-Op's 47th Street branch.
Pity Zaleski and Horvath Market Cafe next door, sandwiched between this white elephant to their west, and the vacant lot + billboard = cash machine for whoever owns the lot to the east.