Monday Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced at a press conference two new investments in the neighborhoods of Auburn Gresham and North Lawndale to address health care deserts. The first investment is a Healthy Lifestyle Hub in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood. A vacant 4- story building, located at 839 W. 79th Street will undergo renovations for the hub. The other will support the construction of a 30,000-square foot Surgical and Ambulatory Care Center in North Lawndale. The investments are both part of Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West Initiative. The projects will be funded through the federal CARES Act and totals 11 million dollars. The mayor proclaims, “At its core, the mission of INVEST South/West is about addressing the structural inequities in our neighborhoods.”
The Surgical and Ambulatory Care Center project in North Lawndale will be the first of its kind because it will be designed by the residents, stakeholders, Black development corporations, and nonprofit organizations. It will also be a space to showcase artists and local entrepreneurs, offer financial education services and workplace development, include a peace garden, and a retail bank. It will also include a renal dialysis center that will run four shifts. The Healthy Lifestyle Hub slated for the Auburn Gresham neighborhood will provide an array of healthcare services that will address the physical, emotional, and mental well-being needs of the community and house restaurants such as Mikkey’s Retro Grill, that will offer healthier options on their menus. It will provide oral health services and serve as a digital community center.
“Set against the background of both COVID-19 and the issues of racial disparities brought to the forefront in the wake of the death of George Floyd, this project represents a critical extension of Sinai’s legacy of reaching beyond our hospital walls to provide much-needed resources to our community,” said Karen Teitelbaum, President, and CEO of Sinai Health System. “We’re at a pivotal moment, and this sort of financial commitment means much more than bricks and mortar; it’s about ensuring vitality, employment, safety, and good health in a part of Chicago plagued with disparities. All Chicagoans deserve good health, no matter where they live.”
Last year, Mayor Lightfoot announced INVEST South/West, an unprecedented neighborhood improvement investment initiative designed to revitalize key corridors on the South and West Sides of Chicago. Over the next three years and through a collaborative effort by government, businesses, community leaders, and philanthropies, the City has already begun to align more than $750 million in allocated funding. The INVEST South/West initiative’s goals are to focus on corridors that have historically served as focal points for pedestrian activity, retail services, transportation, public spaces, and quality-of-life amenities for residents. INVEST South/West neighborhood revitalization projects initially include:
- Auburn Gresham (the priority corridor is 79th and Ashland, including the strip of 79th Street running from Paulina east to the planned Metra station.)
- North Lawndale (the priority corridor is Ogden Avenue, running southwest from Kedzie Avenue to Pulaski Road.)
- Bronzeville (the priority corridor is Cottage Grove Avenue and adjacent blocks on 43rd and 47th streets.)
- Greater Englewood (priority corridor is 63rd and Halsted, an intersection anchored by critical community assets like Kennedy-King College, the Halsted Green Line station, and the Englewood Square shopping center.)
- Humboldt Park (the City is focusing on two priority corridors: North Avenue from Kostner to Kedzie and Chicago Avenue from Pulaski to Kedzie.)
- Austin (the priority corridor is Chicago Avenue, running from Kilpatrick Avenue on the east to Austin Boulevard on the west.)
- New City (the priority corridor is 47th and Ashland, running from Damen east to Loomis along 47th and from 43rd south to 49th along Ashland.)
- Roseland (the priority corridors include South Michigan Avenue and 111th Streets.)
- South Chicago (the priority corridor is Commercial Avenue from 85th to 92nd streets, as well as adjacent blocks on 92nd.)
- South Shore (the priority corridor is 79th Street from Stony Island on the west to the Metra tracks on the east.)
The City will also seek input to explore expanding INVEST South/West to other commercial corridors on the South and West sides. “Mayor Lightfoot continues to follow through on her promises of driving investment and capital improvements in South and West Side communities that have languished with disinvestment. said Carlos Nelson, CEO of the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation (GAGDC).
For more information on the new INVEST South/West initiative, please visit www.chicago.gov/investSW.
Kelly Washington is a freelance writer living on the southside of Chicago. You can follow her on social media @ Sunrise and Sugar (Facebook).