Breakthrough in 22nd Ward

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Change underway for 22nd Ward as Saint Anthony Ministries unveils their ambitious plan to build a 1 million square-foot complex on an 11-acre lot at 31st and Kedzie.

Economic vitality. Sustainability. Progress. Innovation. Those are just a few words to describe the historic breakthrough that is underway for the 22nd Ward. After a two year process, Saint Anthony Ministries filed an application with the city of Chicago on July 18 that granted them approval to build a nearly 1 million square-foot complex on an 11-acre lot at 31st and Kedzie. “This model is something that has never been done before and has the potential to transform community development in disadvantaged communities all across our country,” said Guy A. Medaglia, president and chief executive officer of Saint Anthony Ministries and of its subsidiary, Saint Anthony Hospital, which will relocate to serve as a tenant of the new complex.

What makes this project so unique is that it will remedy the pressing needs of the underserved communities of Little Village, North Lawndale, Pilsen, Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, and Archer Heights by creating a public, private partnership. The new complex, which will be called Focal Point Community Campus will feature a combination of retail stores, wellness programs, education, arts and recreation elements, day care centers, and an outpatient clinic, to name a few. “This new campus is long overdue in this community,” said Medaglia. “In communities like Pilsen and North Lawndale, you find great people, a lot of people with creativity. They are all looking for some sort of crack in the door to have someone recognize what they can offer. We are happy to deliver this innovative program to the community.”

Through Saint Anthony Ministries campus model, rental income from tenants, such as retail stores and schools, hospitality and parking garage, and the hospital, will be ‘reinvested into programs and services provided through the campus,’ stated Medaglia. The objective behind Focal Point Community Campus is to create financial ‘self-sustainability’ and improve community development, which is something Alderman Ricardo Muñoz (22nd ward) said lacked and an issue that needed refocus. “I am looking forward to bringing this beautiful campus to the ward. For years, the 22nd ward has seen am empty lot that serves as a daily reminder for what our community lacks. We need this campus to come and create jobs and boost the morale of community members.”

According to Medaglia, the campus will generate hundreds of jobs for the campus itself and an estimated 2,100 construction jobs will be created. “There is a lot of work in front of us,” said Medaglia. “Any time you have an innovative program like this, one that hasn’t been done before; there really is a lot of work and partnering with local organizations. There are so many components that need to come together.” Saint Anthony Ministries hopes to complete this ambitious project in 2016.

Community Support
In an area that is ravaged by unemployment and high incidences of crime, Medaglia, Ald. Muñoz, along with supporters Alderman George Cardenas (12th ward), Alderman Michael Chandler, (24th ward), and Peter Fazio, Jr., chair, Saint Anthony Ministries Board, held countless focus groups to discover some of the more immediate issues facing them and heeded their advice to create more resources for families to take advantage.

“Especially in this traditionally divided area of the city, I have never seen an organization like Saint Anthony that stays so true to its charitable mission and has gained such widespread community support that spans different races, religions, and political affiliations,” said Ald. Cardenas in a statement. Saint Anthony Ministries, through the work of Saint Anthony Hospital, has continued to overcome tremendous challenges to remain a leader in the community. Often described as a hospital ‘without walls,’ Saint Anthony Ministries will continue to reach out to members prior to the construction of Focal Point Community Campus to make sure all concerns have been answered.

Campus Features
After numerous town hall meetings, there will be several aspects Focal Point Community Campus will help improve the lives of roughly 400,000 residents. “Prior to coming to Saint Anthony, I worked in the for-profit world,” said Medaglia. “It’s great to bring that wealth of knowledge towards this new project to create something that has never been done before. We are bridging together the public and private sectors to create a partnership that will allow for growth. If we went towards obtaining grants, we may run the risk of closing down programs should budget cuts occur. And, to be quite frank, that wouldn’t be fair to our residents.” Highlights of the new campus include:

Rental tenants: providing community members access to food, clothing and household items.

Hospitality center: community members can rent for personal use.

Day care center: will offer parents a convenient location for quality child care.

Outpatient and specialty clinic: to meet a wide range of rehabilitative and health maintenance needs.

Saint Anthony Hospital: the new construction will continue to provide emergency and medical care.

Education center: will offer preventive education programs.

Center for creativity: where inner city youth will be encouraged to develop their skills and talents.
Recreation center: replete with basketball court and half Olympic-size pool.

Wellness programs: will provide information on topics related to health and food preparation.

For more information on Focal Point Community Campus, visit

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