WOODLAWN — Ain’t She Sweet Café announced Wednesday it would open its third location in the Woodlawn Station development, which broke ground on Wednesday.
The cafe will add bring its menu of sandwiches, wraps and salads to Woodlawn in 2018 in the $30 million development by Preservation of Affordable Housing.
“It’s close to transportation and affordable housing, which is a win-win situation,” Margo Strotter, owner of Ain’t She Sweet Café, said at the groundbreaking. “We’ll be gaining new employees and new customers and it’s something I hope the whole community will enjoy.”
The café started in Grand Boulevard and expanded to Beverly in March at 9920 S. Western Ave.
Strotter said the third location has been in the works for over a year and wasn’t entirely her idea.
“They kind of talked me into it,” Strotter said of recruitment efforts by developer POAH.
Ain’t She Sweet Café is the first tenant announced for the building, which is expected to open next year, and will have a 1,600-square-foot space on the northeastern corner of the development where there will be room for outdoor seating.
The building, which will include 70 apartments and 15,000 square feet of retail, is just under the Cottage Grove Green Line stop and will use up the last of a $30.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2011.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said he was drawn to the groundbreaking partially because he is a fan of Ain’t She Sweet Café, but also because the federal Choice Neighborhood Program grant funding for Woodlawn Station and much of the rest of the Grove Parc Plaza affordable housing redevelopment is now likely to be cut from the federal budget.
“I’m sorry to tell you the president thinks we ought to eliminate this program,” Durbin said. “Well he’s in for a fight, there are a lot of us in Congress that believe programs just like this are essential to make sure people have good paying jobs and good businesses here in America.”
POAH estimates that $400 million has been invested in Woodlawn since HUD issued the Choice grant.
“A resident of Woodlawn Station will soon be able to leave their apartment and walk steps to high quality restaurants, shops, cafes and services located on the ground floor,” said Aaron Gornstein, president and CEO of POAH. “They’ll be able to walk steps to take the Green Line Downtown or steps to the No. 63 bus to the Obama library.”
The development will include 35 apartments for former residents of Grove Parc Plaza and 20 units for middle-income residents and 15 market-rate units.
The city is providing a $5 million loan and the state is providing $12.4 million in tax credits for the project.