A jubilant crowd of neighborhood residents and city officials watched as ground was officially broken this morning on the Broadway Triangle project, which will bring townhouses, restaurants and small retail shops to a long-vacant stretch of Broadway in Oak Park.
"People said this was a community that was forgotten and could not stand up on its own," said Mayor Kevin Johnson. "And that's not true."
The $12 million development - aided by $8 million in redevelopment money - will transform three vacant blocks on Broadway around 35th Street. That intersection once was the center of Oak Park, but much of it has stood vacant for years.
"Let's not kid ourselves, the pressure will be great as we prove that building in Oak Park will pay off," said Michael Boyd, head of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association.
Developer and architect Ron Vrilakas, who was behind many notable midtown housing and restaurant projects, said the first restaurant in Broadway Triangle could be open by next spring. The rest of the project is expected to be completed by 2014.
The ground breaking also served as a memorial of sorts for redevelopment agency funding. The Broadway Triangle project could be one of the last in the state funded by the now-defunct program.