News Round Up - Englewood Gets Whole Foods, Chance to Help White House Christmas & More

The weeks go by and the news keeps coming in from across the city. This time around, there's a lot happening on the south side as Englewood welcomes some new businesses to the neighborhood and a longstanding affordable housing project opens. Chance The Rapper stays in the headlines with big news with the White House and the Chicago Teacher's Union faces off once again with Mayor Rahm Emanuel & City Hall. All that and more in our latest News Round Up. 

Starbucks & Whole Foods Open in Englewood

In a move to help communities long blighted by food deserts and a lack of ammenities often stocked on the northside and Loop, members of the Englewood community welcomed both a Whole Foods and Starbucks to their neighborhood this week.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel attended the 9 AM opening at 832 W 63rd St. on Wednesday after last week touring the site with London Mayor Sadiq Khan during a visit. Along with more than 3,000 shoppers who flocked to the first grocery store of its kind on the south side,  Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago), and Aldermen Toni Foulkes, Raymond Lopez, David Moore and Michelle Harris were also in attendance. The location has announced plans to work with those in the community to help source goods and services and will serve to employ as many as 100 from in and around the area.

Seattle-based coffeeshop chain Starbucks similarly opened its first location in the southwest neighborhood, unveiling a storefront in another new development, Englewood Plaza at 806 W 63rd Street. According to DNAInfo, "The 2,200-square-foot store can seat up to 41 people with a room that will double as a training center and a community room to host poetry nights, group meetings and more." The store will reportedly staff up to 26 employees and look to source products from local vendors.

The opening is a move to reinvigorate a portion of the city that has long missed sustainable storefronts. According to DNAInfo, several commercial properties nearby have already been rented, a sign of progress in a neighborhood in need of it. Following the recent ground-breaking on the south side's first trauma center in Hyde Park earlier this month, it appears Emanuel is making concerted efforts to shore up his image outside of his Gold Coast cocoon. After fighting a tight mayoral race with Chuy Garcia that exposed clear opposition from residents feeling forgotten by City Hall, Emanuel seems to be at least trying to take steps in the right direction.

Chance The Rapper to Perform at White House Christmas

As if Chance The Rapper wasn't already having the best year ever, today it was announced that the 23-year-old breakout artist from Chicago will put a perfect capstone on an already glistening year by performing at the White House's Christmas tree lighting on December 1 alongside Kelly Clarkson and Yolanda Adams.

For Chance, who's father worked alongside Obama both in Chicago and in the Oval Office, the opportunity is a fitting one that will help the outgoing, Chicagoan president depart from office with a bang. Having been only 15 when Obama entered office, Chano stands today as a perfect example of a young man from the city that has made good on a myriad of opportunities while never failing to remember to give back to the communities he came from. The Obama's are proven fans as well, as Chance was featured on the POTUS' recent playlists. Those hoping to make it to the performance, which will air via the Hallmark Channel on Dec. 2, will have to submit their names to a lottery which will be chosen prior to the set. 

Overwhelming CTU Majority Favors Strike

The issues between City Hall and the Chicago Teacher's Union is one that is longstanding and well-documented under the Rahm Emanuel administration. Under his reign the union has seen the largest school closings in American history and increasingly decreased funding often funneled instead to charters preferable to Emanuel and his staffers.

In the latest chapter of the ongoing saga, it was reported by DNAInfo this week that 95.6% of teachers in the CTU voted last week to back a strike, the first since 2012. The vote would set the stage for a walk-out as soon as Oct. 11. Teachers have been working without a contract since the middle of last year and are demanding a fair deal in ongoing negotiations. CTU President Karen Lewis, in a letter to union members, stated that they would not "work another year without a contract." 

It's yet to be seen whether a strike like the one that interrupted the start to the 2012 school year will come to fruition, but from the look of things, the stage may be set for a repeat. 

"A strike can be averted, and CPS will work tirelessly to make sure children’s education and progress is not interrupted. A strike is a very serious step that affects the lives of thousands of parents and children, and we hope that, before taking the final steps toward a strike, the CTU’s leadership works hard at the bargaining table to reach a fair deal," said district spokeswoman Emily Bittner. 

Rosenwald Apartments Reopen

In a continued effort to provide the city of Chicago with much-needed affordable housing, city officials unveiled the completion of yet another project with the opening of the Rosenwald Courts Apartments at 4600 S. Michigan Ave in the Bronzeville neighborhood. 

The structure, first erected in 1929 by philanthropist and owner of Sears, Roebuck & Company, Julius Rosenwald, will serve as the latest addition to an inspired reinvigoration of development along 47th street. The site was originally built as a way to provide housing for African-Americans at a time of mass segregation and the $132 million redesign will provide 239 one and two-bedroom apartments with space for commercial development at street level. 

In a statement prepared for the opening, Mayor Emanuel had this to say of the iconic building that once housed Gwendolyn Brooks, Nat King Cole, Joe Louis & more. 

“Nearly a century ago this building served as a beacon for a community on the south side of Chicago. Today, thanks to the work and dedication of many people throughout Chicago, the Rosenwald has been restored and will serve as a community anchor once again, bringing new economic opportunities and affordable housing to Bronzeville,” Emanuel said.