AVALON PARK — Black on Black Love plans to expand its services to adult ex-offenders and at-risk youths once it moves into its new 8,000-square-foot office this year.
The South Side nonprofit organization, which is currently housed in the same building as WVON-AM, is expected to sign a 10-year lease with the city in July for a vacant public library at 8828 S. Stony Island Ave. said Francis Wright, CEO of Black on Black Love. The City Council approved the lease deal Wednesday. The group will rent the building for $1 a year, Wright said.
"More space means we can see more clients. Black on Black Love provides anger management and parenting classes to women as well as mentoring to young males," she said. "Our current office space is small in comparison to where we will be moving."
The building was home to the Avalon Public Library branch until it moved in 2006 to 8148 S. Stony Island Ave.
Wright said the organization had been searching for new office space the last three years and "if it were not for Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), I doubt if this move would have been possible," Wright said. "Ultimately, we would like to buy the building from the city."
Pete Strazzabasco, a spokesman for the city's Department of Housing and Economic Development, aid it's not unusual for the city to lease property to organizations to help spur economic development and to get some use out of a vacant building. Before it was a library the building housed a Social Security office.
Earlier this year the city agreed to a similar lease with another South Side organization seeking to convert a city-owned, vacant building into its headquarters. The Chicago African-American Firefighters Museum signed a 10-year lease to redevelop a vacant fire station at 5349 S. Wabash Ave.
City officials said Black on Black Love, which was founded in 1983 by entrepreneur Edward Gardner and his wife, Betty, will be responsible for all maintenance, security, custodial services and utility bills on the property.