Rooftop Pastor Holds Demolition Celebration

Pastor Corey Brooks camped out on the roof of a motel for 94 days as part of a pledge to raise $450,000 to purchase the land and build a community center across from his church

By Rob Elgas and BJ Lutz
|  Wednesday, Mar 7, 2012  |  Updated 10:14 PM CDT
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Rev. Brooks Comes Down From Roof, Expresses Gratitude

State Sen. James Meeks and Pastor Corey Brooks at the New Beginning Church, at 6620 S. King Drive.

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Rev. Brooks Comes Down From Roof, Expresses Gratitude

After camping atop a south side motel roof for more than three months, Pastor Corey Brooks on Friday evening boarded a scissor lift and was lowered to the street and greeted by a celebratory crowd. Brooks was on the roof for 94 days as part of a pledge to raise $450,000 to purchase the land and build a community center across from his New Beginnings Church in the 6600 block of South Martin Luther King Drive.
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The sight of a wrecking ball usually doesn't signal hope for the future, but on Chicago's south side Wednesday night it was cause for celebration.

Pastor Corey Brooks, who just two weeks ago came down from the motel roof he'd called home for three months, held a celebration to mark the beginning of what many hope is a rebirth of the Englewood community.

"Freedom looks good on you," State Senator and Rev. James Meeks told Brooks as the celebration started amid song, dance and laughter.

Brooks camped out on the roof of the motel for 94 days as part of a pledge to raise $450,000 to purchase the land and build a community center across from his New Beginnings Church in the 6600 block of South Martin Luther King Drive.

Countless donors, including actor-director Tyler Perry, ultimately got him to the goal, which should help cover the costs of the building's demolition. Another $15 million will be needed to build the community center.

'Selected areas of the new center will be dedicated to a few of the folks who made it all possible. So there will definitely be a Tyler Perry theater and because of a generous donation of $50,000, the rooftop of the new center will be named in memory of Chicago’s Sylvia Sybolik, who loved trees and flowers," Brooks told the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this week. "The Center will serve the underserved youth and young adults in the Woodlawn/Englewood communities by taking them from the play space to the work place.”

The intended community center is a part of Project H.O.O.D. (Helping others Obtain Destiny) and will feature mixed income housing, commercial spaces and the New Beginnings Church's "Master Academy."

Brooks said he received news Wednesday that architectural firm Perkins+Will had agreed to design the community center pro bono.

During his time on the roof, Brooks wrote a book -- HOODology 101 -- due out in May.

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