Nichols Tower Press Release

Original Sears Tower in North Lawndale Renamed John D. and Alexandra C. Nichols Tower and Redeveloped as Community Resource Hub

Chicago – Capping nearly three decades of redevelopment work in North Lawndale, the original Sears, Roebuck and Co. Tower will be reopened as a community hub for arts education, workforce development, economic enterprise and community revitalization. Newly christened the John D. and Alexandra C. Nichols Tower, it will become home to a collaboration of eight not-for-profit organizations.

The Nichols Tower once anchored the Sears, Roebuck and Co. mail-order warehouse and is on the National Register of Historic Places. After extensive renovation, it will now house community programs from the following community and city-wide organizations:

  • Free Spirit Media;
  • Lawndale Business Renaissance Association;
  • Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago;
  • North Lawndale Employment Network;
  • The School of the Art Institute of Chicago;
  • The Foundation for Homan Square;
  • Turning the Page; and
  • UCAN

The Tower is the culmination of a decades-long revitalization of Homan Square that includes the development of health care, day care, and recreation and health education programs as well as affordable housing and preschool through high school education. The Homan Square Campus includes the Homan Square Community Center, Charles H. Shaw Technology and Learning Center, YMCA Child Development Center, Holy Family School and nearly 400 hundred units of affordable housing. It is touted as a national model for community development, sustainable design and historic preservation.

“We are thrilled that such a diverse and talented group of organizations are committing to the Nichols Tower and to the vision of Homan Square,” said Kristin Dean, President, Foundation for Homan Square. “Our goal from day one has been to transform this property into an asset for all residents of North Lawndale and the surrounding communities. Completing the Nichols Tower is the capstone of that effort.”

Nichols Tower tenants will offer a wide range of community services including: art courses and workshops; artist in residency programs; job readiness and skills training classes; training in community journalism and professional level media skills for youth and adults; youth leadership training and mentoring for at-risk community youth; support services for area youth and families who have experienced trauma; literacy-based child mentoring activities and summer learning programs; new homeowner education, fixed-rate mortgage lending and foreclosure prevention services; and new businesses recruitment and retention.

“The Nichols Towers will increase the collective impact of our individual programs by bringing us together under one roof where collaboration can flourish,” said Brenda Palms Barber, Executive Director of the North Lawndale Employment Network. “We are pursuing an agenda of equity, where all people have the ability and right to earn an income and care for their families, experience the arts, grow as individuals, and feel hopeful about the future. The Nichols Tower will offer hope and be a beacon of opportunity on the West Side of Chicago.”

The Nichols Tower was renamed after John D. and Alexandra C. Nichols. The Nichols are longtime benefactors of Homan Square and were friends with Charles H. Shaw, the real estate developer who began the redevelopment process. After Shaw’s untimely passing in 2006, John Nichols actively intervened to ensure Shaw’s legacy and the completion of Homan Square redevelopment projects.

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