Madison Street and the Madison Street Plaza. The Latest Evolution of Maywood’s Commercial Community
Maywood has had a long history of economic ups and downs since its founding in 1861. Since the 1960’s, the downtown corridor between First Avenue and Seventeenth Avenue on Madison Street particularly has suffered from decline, neglect and criminal activity. However, recently this area has been targeted for redevelopment as a technological center and an artistic hub.
Chatman-Lewis Enterprises (CLFE) and the Economic Growth Initiative (EGI) are leading the way with a multi-level plan aimed at bringing growth and prosperity back to Maywood. CLFE’s founder and president, Bridgette Chatman-Lewis, was born and raised in Maywood. In 2016, with the enthusiastic support of Maywood’s Mayor, Edwenna Perkins and other far-sighted citizens, she spearheaded this project to help her home town thrive again. The first phase of this transformation will be celebrated on September 7, 2019 when the center of Maywood’s retail district – Maywood Plaza at 1100 – 1123 Madison Street, is reopened as Madison Street Plaza.
Madison Street Plaza – a new look emphasizing retail, art and technology
The renovated mall measures 8,100 square feet and now has a clean, smart, upscale façade. Anchored on one side by the Proviso Community Bank, a Wintrust Bank and on the other by a co-op area, it is already fully occupied by a variety of local retailers. “The bank,” Chatman-Lewis observes, “is a much needed and valued tenant at the Madison Street Plaza. It can assist the community with homeownership and entrepreneurship investment lending.”
The Plaza is only the beginning
The Madison Street Plaza is only part of a CLFE’s comprehensive redevelopment initiative called the “Square Project.” As Chatman-Lewis explains, “The project name reflects the shape of the area – approximately 2.72 square miles – that’s immediately effected.” In addition to Madison Street Plaza, the plans include the construction of Madison Place, an incubator for technology-oriented businesses and a mixed-generation condominium complex designed to serve the needs of baby boomers as well as millennials.
EGI is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization that offers a unique Five Pillar Program©
In addition to the physical renovation of the area, EGI is working on job creation and training for area residents through the Five Pillar program. The organization has been forming new partnerships throughout Maywood to help men and women of all ages enjoy more professional opportunities. For example, working with Microsoft, the University of Illinois MakerLab and local libraries, it created a program in which young students learn various technological and entrepreneurial skill sets such as how to use 3-D printing for manufacturing and APP/Code development.
“We value Maywood’s social fabric and town traditions very highly,” says Chatman-Lewis. “We want to preserve them while taking full advantage of Maywood’s highly-coveted location to make the village a major player in the area’s future success.”