The construction of the United Center led to improvements in the Near West Side, as the City of Chicago didn’t want the vacationers and Bulls fans to see their run-down neighborhoods. Additionally, in 1996 the United Center hosted the Democratic National Convention, which many saw as a way to bring attention to the area. The City, as well as private organizations, infused money into the Near West Side, refurbishing subsidized housing and condo/apartment buildings. Part of the reconstruction was funded by the United Center Community Economic Development Fund, which offered up to $50,000 to anybody who opened a business in the area. On June 30, 1996, the Chicago Tribune reported “At the low-cost end of the new housing spectrum is a development by Uptown Habitat for Humanity that is just getting underway in the 2200 block of Warren Avenue, a block north of Madison. The first half of the 24-unit condominium project should be completed by October on land obtained for $1 from the city, said John Mitchell, executive director of Uptown Habitat for Humanity. Designed for low-income, the three-bedroom, one-bath units will have 1,000 to 1,100 square feet and be priced from $55,000 to $65,000, with zero-interest mortgages.”
In the same article, they reported “In 1992, [Mayor Richard] Daley launched the $2 million Strategic Neighborhood Action Pilot Program to stimulate development in the economically depressed areas of the Near West Side. Now that improvements are underway, Daley wants the private sector to carry the ball. ‘It’s best to leave the future to private developers,’ he said. That appears to be happening. ‘Now we have 13 buildings with over 1 million square feet of loft rentals in the area,’ said [Lewis] Kostiner. ‘People are realizing that this is a viable place to live. A little city is rising here.’ Kostiner plans to convert three of his rental buildings, with a total of 112 units, into loft condos. Prices will average $275,000 to $280,000.”
Likewise, on July 24, 1994, the Chicago Tribune reported “‘Chicago Stadium had been here for years, and there was no spinoff from it. While the United Center is not a direct benefit to the community, it has spurred a lot of development on the Near West Side,’ said [Ernest] Gates, who owns a trucking firm in the area.” People were attracted to the United Center for entertainment, which inspired restaurants and other businesses to open. This in turn made the neighborhood more lively, bringing new residents to the area and helping it grow as a community.
During the renewal, the City of Chicago demolished several public housing complexes to “clean up” the neighborhoods surrounding the United Center, relocating many residents. On August 11, 1994, the Chicago Tribune reported that there were public housing residents who were concerned that when their houses were demolished, they would lose their permanent living place. However, on July 6, 2008, the Chicago Tribune reported there were 464 families who stayed on site and are now living inside fully refurbished homes.
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"Whenever the lights finally fade on the Bulls' victorious romp, their basketball Camelot staged on Chicago's Near West Side will leave a greater legacy than the NBA championship banners hanging from the rafters of the United Center.
"Some community leaders contend that the financial support [Jerry] Reinsdorf and [Bill] Wirtz have given to neighborhood schools, small businesses and other institutions will ensure that it remains a mixed-income community. The United Center, for instance, donated $600,000 to provide ongoing construction financing for private homes.
“Opened in 1994, the $175 million arena at 1901 W. Madison St. was hailed as a catalyst for a building boom that has spread into the surrounding neighborhoods. ‘The big turning point was the Democratic convention at the United Center in 1996. That focused attention on this neighborhood,’ said Eric Sedler, president of the West Loop Gate community organization. Since then, the Near West Side has evolved into a residential hot spot. Signs of construction dot the skyline. Cranes tower over condos in the making. Who can miss Skybridge, the high-rise being built just west of the Kennedy Expressway at Halsted and Madison Streets? According to Sedler, more than 2,000 residential units are under construction in the West Loop. And that’s just one neighborhood of the Near West Side.” -- Chicago Tribune, August 11, 2002.
Articles from the Chicago Tribune.
“Perhaps no other neighborhood has as dramatically circled around as the Near West Side. By the 1990s, the neighborhood was ripe for redevelopment, especially after then-Mayor Richard M. Daley landed the 1996 Democratic National Convention. Streets were spruced up; Randolph Street, the city’s produce market, was reborn as a rialto of trendy restaurants. An aging sports arena (Chicago Stadium) was replaced by a palace worthy of Michael Jordan.” -- Chicago Tribune, November 18, 2012.