CHICAGO (WLS) — The Woodlawn neighborhood celebrated after hearing Pastor Corey Brooks finally raise enough money to begin construction on his much-anticipated community center.

The Chicago religious leader has ended his months-long rooftop campaign. He started camping on a makeshift rooftop in November last year to raise money to replace an old motel that once occupied land opposite his New Beginnings Church with a community center.

SEE ALSO | “Rooftop Pastor” Corey Brooks raises $18 million to begin demolition of new Woodlawn Community Center

So far, Brooks has raised about $20 million, enough to start construction.

“We just decided it was the right time, the city needed hope, it needed inspiration,” Brooks said.

Saturday’s groundbreaking ceremony came as at least 29 children and teenagers in the town were shot and killed, and seven of them were killed this month alone. Married with an 11-year-old son, South Side native Michael Holmes hopes the center will make a difference.

“It’s going to put a lot of positivity and a lot of positive situations to use,” he said.

RELATED | Woodlawn Church pastor raises $10m living on rooftop, staying to raise another $25m

The effort to build the Center for Leadership and Economic Opportunity at 66th Street and King Drive has been in the works for 10 years for Brooks’ HOOD project, which stands for “helping others achieve their destiny.”

“As it’s built over the next few years, we’re going to see it and it will benefit us and help us,” said Jahlil Porter of Project HOOD.

Organizers said the 85,000 square foot facility will take at least 18 months to build and will not only revitalize the neighborhood but provide support services and resources to the community.

“I’m very hopeful and can’t wait to be a part of it,” said Woodlawn resident Alanda Redmond.

LEARN MORE | Chicago pastor will spend 3 months living in shipping containers to raise $30 million for Woodlawn Center

The neighborhood is still celebrating, although the total cost of the center is $35 million, millions more than has already been raised.

Brooks said he plans to continue fundraising using social media to appeal to generous donors around the world.

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