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Washburn Square Park: New Model for a Shrinking City?


Washburn Square Park in the North Side officially opened Monday. Fifteen years ago it was the site of 46 dilapidated rowhouses; now there are three single-family homes and an open greenspace.

The Brightwood Civic Group sought funding originally to replace the old homes with 17 dwellings, but the Urban Redevelopment Authority had another idea.

David Howe of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, said, "For the last 50 years we've seen the city population decrease and we still have the same number of houses that we had before. We have a strategy of demolition, of green up different lots to help solidify housing prices, to keep peoples' equities in their homes. This is a project we hope to replicate all across the city." After demolition, people in the neighborhood embraced the open space.

Total cost of the $3,100,000 project came from various public sources. Howe said asbestos throughout the old homes added substantially to this figure. The new homes sold soon after they went on the market for $135,000 each.