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South Shore Cultural Center Getting $3.3M For Upgrades Two Years Overdue

By Sam Cholke | January 26, 2017 6:08am | Updated on January 27, 2017 11:32am
 The columns at the South Shore Cultural Center were in bad shape in 2015 when the state froze funding for repairs.
The columns at the South Shore Cultural Center were in bad shape in 2015 when the state froze funding for repairs.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

SOUTH SHORE — The South Shore Cultural Center will get a much-needed $3.3 million update after state money delayed for nearly two years was released.

Chicago Park District Supt. Mike Kelly said at Tuesday night’s 5th Ward meeting that state money previously frozen by Gov. Bruce Rauner had been released, freeing up $3.3 million to fix the cultural center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive.

In 2015, Rauner froze $28 million in grants from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, putting on hold repairs that were supposed to fix up the cultural center for its 100th anniversary.

A portion of those funds have now been released, allowing work to start on repairing the crumbling columns that line the entrance to the building.

Kelly said the cultural center is being included in the planning for the upgrades to the golf course so there is more activity at the building after the day-to-day operations of the golf course move elsewhere in the park.

“It’s still a little too sleepy for me in the summer,” Kelly said.

Park Supervisor Andrea Adams was not available for comment, but said in 2015 that the repairs were already overdue.

“Every single dollar of that grant was needed,” said Adams said at the time. “Those columns outside are truly an eyesore, but there is nothing we can do.”

The theater was expected to be restored for the South Shore Cultural Center's 100th anniversary last year, but frozen funding pushed the work off until this year.

The money was also supposed to be used to repair the outdoor theater on the southern side of the cultural center, which was to be the scene for a lot of the cultural center’s 100th anniversary celebrations last year.

It’s not immediately clear why the funding is now available and a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resource wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, a spokeswoman for the Park District, said the money is part of a reimbursable grant that was released in August.

She said it would be used to restore the historic columns and trellis of the central promenade of the cultural center. She said the Park District was pitching in $832,700 of the $3.3 million toward the work, which also includes restoring the outdoor amphitheater with new lights and landscaping.

The money is also expected to fund replacing the elevator and some of the details inside the building like windows and doors.

Kelly on Tuesday promised more investment to come for the cultural center as the golf course is redone, including a new beach house, improvements to the landscaping, stables and other parts of the grounds.