Chicago (CBS) — After years of payback, a new and important resource is coming to the Auburn Gresham area.
They are all housed in one new Healthy Lifestyle Hub at 839 W. 79th St., just west of Halsted Street. We’ve been following the building’s development for months, and on Friday, CBS 2’s Irika Sargent was there for the grand opening.
As you may remember, Sargent and CBS 2’s Joe Donlon were in the same building in July doing a 30-minute special report on the response to mass shootings in the south and west sides of the city. He chose Healthy Lifestyles’ hub as the backdrop for that newscast as a sign of hope for the real change that can be achieved at her level in the community.
The building at 839 W. 79th St. was built in 1925. The former furniture store has been vacant for the past 25 years. Located right next to Leo High School at 7901 S. Sangamon St., students had to pass a building with shutters on their way to school.
The Greater Auburn Gresham Development Authority has set its sights on developing projects that benefit the entire community. This is a building that houses medical and dental services, pharmacies, cafes, banks, etc.
On Friday, they celebrated that dream come true. During the grand opening celebration from 4pm to 7pm, residents walked through the open house and learned about all the resources that will be brought to the Auburn Gresham neighborhood. I learned. In all, more than 600 guests were expected.
Carlos Nelson, CEO of Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, was the first to come up with the idea for the Healthy Lifestyle Hub.
“We literally started in 2016 with a vision to revive this vacant 60,000-square-foot building that was ominously located near 79th Street and Halstead Station, the busiest bus lines in the entire city of Chicago. We’ve been working on it,” Nelson said. .
The Chicago Bears were a major backer, donating over $600,000 to the project.
“When the Chicago Bears heard that we were doing a Racial Equity Rapid Response Task Force, that is COVID response work at Auburn Gresham, we were doing I wanted to get involved.
One of the missions Bears signed on to was to provide quality healthcare. Another was to show how food can be used as medicine. This was done in the form of a high-tech educational kitchen, Nelson said.
Overall, the Auburn Gresham Development Authority has secured approximately $20 million for this project. The Pritzker Traubert Foundation was a major patron.
Additionally, facility components include the UI Health Clinic and Emergency Care Center operated by the University of Illinois at Chicago on the second floor, and a pharmacy. The urgent care center provides medical, dental and mental health care and in the next year alone he plans to serve 30,000 patients.
On the third floor, neighbors can connect with the Heartland Alliance, which aims to lift people out of poverty for jobs, housing and family services. The UIC Neighborhood Center also has spots that offer tutoring and small business workshops.
The ground floor houses Bank of America and a locally owned black restaurant and coffee shop.
Speaking to a woman who runs diabetes education, Sargent said she also plans to hold diabetes education workshops at the Healthy Lifestyle Hub.
Linda Johnson, Senior Director of Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, emphasized the need for better healthcare in Auburn Gresham.
“Auburn Gresham has suffered many health inequalities over the years,” she said.
Johnson emphasized that Chicago’s first COVID-19 death was a resident of Auburn Gresham. Patricia Freeson, 61, passed away in mid-March 2020.
The new hub will add 150 jobs to the community with the goal of building wealth for the next generations living in the area.
The Healthy Lifestyle Hub’s next goal is to open a women’s health center for prenatal and postnatal care. Nelson said her Healthy Lifestyle hub will also include a senior activity center, fitness center and food her pantry in the future.
Some call it the Miracle on 79th Street.
Nelson was thrilled to see hundreds of people turn up for the grand opening on Friday night.
“This is so special to me that people ask me what I think about this. I’m most excited about the smiles, the faces, the sparkle in the eyes,” he said. “This is really about community.” The community owns this as their project, their building.”
Meanwhile, Auburn Gresham continues to receive great news. Auburn Gardens, a $40 million affordable housing development, is being built across the hub.
A $35 million Metra Electric Line station will also open in 2024.
Community leaders say these efforts not only provide opportunities, but also help prevent violence.