CHICAGO (CBS) — After years of disinvestment, there are new and important resources coming to the Auburn Gresham neighborhood.
They are all housed in one new Healthy Lifestyle Hub at 839 W. 79th St., just west of Halsted Street. We have been following the development of the building for many months, and on Friday, CBS 2’s Irika Sargent was there for the grand opening.
You may remember in July, Sargent and CBS 2’s Joe Donlon were at the same building for a special half-hour report about the response to mass shootings on the city’s South and West sides. We chose the Healthy Lifestyle Hub as the backdrop for that newscast as a sign of hope for the real change that can be made at the community level – when investments are made in our neighborhoods.
The building at 839 W. 79th St. was built in 1925. The former furniture store had been sitting vacant for the last 25 years. It is right next to Leo High School on 7901 S. Sangamon St., and students had to walk past the shuttered building on the way to school.
The Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation set its sights on developing a project that would serve the whole community – a building that would house medical and dental services, a pharmacy, a café, a bank, and so much more.
On Friday, they celebrated that dream coming to life. During the grand opening celebration from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., residents walked through an open house to learn about all the resources coming to the Auburn Gresham neighborhood. More than 600 guests were expected in all.
Carlos Nelson, chief executive officer of the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, was the one who first had the idea for the Healthy Lifestyle Hub.
“We’ve been working on this since literally 2016 as a vision to bring back to life this vacant 60,000 square-foot building that’s just sat ominously right near 79th and Halsted – the busiest bus line in the entire city of Chicago,” Nelson said.
The Chicago Bears were a major benefactor, donating more than $600,000 for the project.
“When the Chicago Bears heard about our work doing the Racial Equity Rapid Response task force; doing COVID response work in Auburn Gresham, they wanted to get involved with what we were doing,” Nelson said.