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CHICAGO — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today joined Maurice Cox, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, to announce the recipients of $11 million in grant funding to support key INVEST South/West projects. The funding will help to close capital stack gaps for two critical developments in the Auburn Gresham and North Lawndale neighborhoods. Both recipients, the ‘Auburn Gresham Healthy Lifestyle Hub’ and the ‘North Lawndale Surgical and Ambulatory Care Center’ are part of Chicago Prize finalist projects, a program run by the Pritzker Traubert Foundation that will award $10 million to a community-led, investment-ready initiative that will create a better economic future for residents on Chicago’s South and/or West Side. This additional funding helps to make these projects a reality and will help make these projects key anchor development in critical INVEST S/W corridors – serving as a framework for additional investment in these and other community areas.
“I am thrilled to today be announcing this funding that will provide needed capital to two critical projects along our INVEST South/West corridors. These developments have been months and years in the making, and I am thrilled to see them come to fruition,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “It is our hope that these developments serve as critical anchors to drive the inclusive, neighborhoods focused growth that my administration has been committed to from day one. I look forward to seeing these projects come to life and serve as a framework for many others to come.”
The Auburn Gresham Healthy Lifestyle Hub at 839 W. 79th Street focuses on a cluster of enterprises driven by the ultimate renewable resources – people and the environment. The development makes transformative investments in health, wellness, and environmental sustainability while creating a virtuous cycle of growth that connects the neighborhood to the regional economy. The $12.4 million project led by Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation will renovate a long vacant, highly visible building into a community hub that will free up hospital capacity and provide healthcare options to residents. The project location is a vacant, four-story building along 79th Street that is being targeted for revitalization through Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West initiative. These are catalytic sustainable and transit-oriented investments that will build on a community of assets and create additional development moving forward.
“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. The Auburn Gresham Healthy Lifestyle Hub will breathe life into a long vacant 4-story building on 79th Street, delivering a full-service health center and digital community center (including mental and oral health services) promoting lifelong learning to a long suffering community,” said Carlos Nelson, CEO of the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation (GAGDC).
The North Lawndale Surgical and Ambulatory Care Center project will be the first of its kind redevelopment plan not designed by an outside investor but by the residents, stakeholders and homegrown nonprofit organizations. The overall Chicago Prize initiative includes a series of projects that contribute to the neighborhoods’ civic infrastructure, public life, and social capital and will also include the creation of a new Workforce Campus and café. This will be a gathering place that offers workforce development and financial education services, an event space to showcase local entrepreneurs, a Peace Garden, and a retail bank. Additional projects will focus on housing, public art, and greenspaces. The $12.3 million project by Mt. Sinai Hospital will address health-related needs of North Lawndale and bridge the gap between clinical and community services. This funding will support construction of a 30,000-square-foot surgical center, the first of four planned buildings on the site located in an INVEST South/West neighborhood. All projects aim to reinvest in the neighborhood that has for too long faced historic disinvestment.
“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 own 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.”
These investments come after the City has spent the past three months responding to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and Chicago, like many other large cities has put forth several City resources and enacted many policies to help stop the spread of the virus. Additionally, Chicago was a nationwide leader in tracking, understanding, and responding to the COVID-19’s disproportional impact on black and brown communities throughout the City and launched its signature Racial Equity Rapid Response initiative to help direct funding and resources where they are most needed during these challenging times. Neighborhoods like Auburn Gresham and North Lawndale have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. The funding for these projects comes after federal funding from the CARES Act was approved to be appropriated earlier this month by the Chicago City Council.
Last year, Mayor Lightfoot announced INVEST South/West, an unprecedented neighborhood investment initiative designed to support revitalization of key corridors on the South and West Sides of Chicago that will marshal the resources of multiple City departments, community partners, and corporate partners to revitalize the core of 10 underinvested neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West Sides. Through this collaborative effort by government, businesses, philanthropies, and community leaders, the City has already begun to align more than $750 million in allocated funding over the next three years.
The INVEST South/West initiative comprehensively focuses planning and funding tools along targeted corridors that have historically served as focal points for pedestrian activity, retail, services, transportation, public spaces and quality-of life amenities for local residents. INVEST South/West neighborhoods initially include:
The 10 INVEST South/West neighborhoods were identified by DPD through an analysis of local business activity, retail and institutional anchors, transportation amenities, historic buildings, recent and pending public improvements, potential community partners, and a variety of socioeconomic factors. The City will also seek input to explore expanding INVEST South/West to other commercial corridors on the South and West sides. For more information on the new INVEST South/West initiative, please visit www.chicago.gov/investSW.