Three new libraries

Three new libraries are coming to Chicago and could be open to the public as soon as late spring 2025, with two being built on the South Side. Chicago Public Libraries announced plans to open libraries in Humboldt Park, Back of the Yards, and Woodlawn. As part of the city’s Invest South/West Initiative, the libraries in Humboldt Park and Back of the Yards will also feature affordable housing and commercial space.

The Back of the Yards library will replace the existing library that is adjacent to the Back of the Yards High School campus. The 16,000 square foot facility will also include a performing arts center, health center, and spaces for non profits like Chicago Commons and Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation. The library will be located at 4630 S. Ashland Avenue and will also be home to the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council headquarters. 

The Woodlawn library will be replacing the Bessie Coleman branch at 731 E. 63rd Street. $18 million in funding will be going towards the branch. Finally, the Humboldt Park library will also be a 16,000 square feet facility at the vacant Pioneer Bank building. The building sits on the corner of North Avenue and Pulaski Road and will house a Latino cultural center, offices for Humboldt Park Family Health, and seventy-five affordable housing units. All three libraries will have an “early childhood active learning space, and programs and spaces for area children, teens and families.”

Save a Lot opens in Englewood

Last Thursday, May 11, Save-A-Lot opened without fanfare or announcement at 832 W. 63rd Street in Englewood. The store replaces a Whole Foods Market that closed last November. There are six Save-A-Lot store locations on the South and West Sides. However, the brand, which is owned by Ohio-based company Yellow Banana, has drawn the ire of many Chicagoans. Protestors voiced concerns about the chain’s lack of healthy produce options and unsanitary conditions. Some people said that they’ve seen rotten produce or expired food stocked on Save-A-Lot shelves. 

The Save A Lot’s original opening was scheduled for April 2023 but was delayed for weeks due to community opposition and protests. In early May, the store met with Englewood residents and members of the Residents Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.) to discuss a way forward, but the store went ahead and opened with no announcement a week later. 16th Ward Alderwoman Stephanie Coleman told the Tribune that she had not been notified of the opening. “How disappointing. They’ve yet again proven that they don’t respect [the] community,” she said.

Joe Canfield, CEO of Yellow Banana, acknowledged and also pushed back against the criticism, stating that some of the complaints about existing stores are “not unfounded.” Canfield highlighted that Save-A-Lot received $26 million in funding to renovate its stores, including improving refrigeration, fresh food cases, HVAC and more. Half of the funds were provided by the City. Canfield said that Yellow Banana is aiming to complete renovations at all stores by the end of October, with work starting in two weeks on the shuttered Auburn Gresham Save-A-Lot and on an operating store in West Garfield Park.

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