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Tower to bolster Chicago jobs

Posted on December 23, 2015

A newly renovated tower will house many Chicago jobs.

Chicago’s original “Sears Tower” will be a new economic, educational and cultural hub. A North Lawndale icon since 1906, the 14-story structure at 900 S. Homan Ave. was renovated as part of a five-year, $15 million area revitalization project.

Vacant since 1987, the tower previously served as the formal entrance to Sears Roebuck and Co.’s sprawling Merchandise Building. The tower’s reopening is part of a decades-long, City-assisted revitalization of former Sears properties that includes the development of health and daycare facilities, affordable housing, educational buildings, and other community uses. With its renovation, the tower was renamed in honor of benefactors John and Alexandra Nichols, whose generosity supported its redevelopment.

Tenants in the 35,000-square-foot structure include the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Free Spirit Media; North Lawndale Employment Network; Turning the Page; Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago; and the Foundation for Homan Square. Tenants will offer a wide range of community services including: art courses and workshops; job readiness and skills training classes; 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.

“Whether it is inspiring a child through digital media or impacting a family through housing services, Nichols Tower represents Chicago because it represents hope,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This tower is the culmination of years of collaboration and planning, and now it will serve as a key resource for countless people throughout the City of Chicago.”

“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, Foundation for Homan Square president. “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.”