CHICAGO (CBS) – This September, the Healthy Lifestyle Hub will fully open its doors in the Auburn Gresham community.
The building will serve as an anchor in the community, right on 79th Street, offering a health center, dental services, a minority-owned pharmacy, and other critical services.
It’s an example of how investing in a community, one block at a time, can bring a neighborhood back to life.
CBS 2’s Joe Donlon toured the facility with Carlos Nelson, the director of the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation. He got the project off the ground and talked about what it means for residents.
“Think about the fact that this building has been vacant for 25 years, right on 79th Street, the busiest bus line in the entire City of Chicago, steps away from Halstead,” Nelson said.
He added, “It means life. It means hope. It means that the seniors that’ve been here and watched the disinvestment that has plagued us for years, it means that we are doing something for our own community. We’re bringing something to Auburn Gresham that we haven’t had access to in generations.”
Nelson also pointed to the properties which were once occupied by various businesses until they left the neighborhood in recent years.
“It’s taken a very, very long time for us to get to, you know, this state of despair where we are now,” Nelson said.
DONLON: Does that investment and opportunity change the negative observations and perceptions people have of this neighborhood?
NELSON: It’s a start, but the start is having high-quality access to health care, having jobs, building wealth and giving choices like you would have in other communities where the quality of life is good.
DONLON: How important is this investment to expanding beyond this building?
NELSON: The whole idea when we designed the Auburn Gresham Healthy Lifestyle Hub was that it would be a catalyst and it would catalyze investment in other development and build wealth while bringing high-quality access to health care. Private investors … are now taking note. Much of the development though that I’m speaking of is being done by community members, community-based organizations, people from the community. This movement of economic development is being by us and for us.
DONLON: This is a shining example of what this neighborhood can be, in your opinion?
NELSON: This is perseverance at its finest. We need to repurpose or build on these vacant lots, vacant land, vacant buildings. We need to take these negatives and turn it into a positive and this is a shining example of that. Man I am so excited about just having this vacant building, (after) all these years, bringing it back to life. Truly exciting.o
The ribbon cutting and grand opening for the Healthy Lifestyle Hub will take place Sept. 29.