CHICAGO, July 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In an area traditionally plagued by high crime and joblessness—and fighting the continued threat of reduced community resources—a future-thinking organization has announced plans for a financially self-sustaining campus, which will deliver a combination of retail, wellness, education, arts and recreation elements, customized to meet the needs of its community. Saint Anthony Ministries filed an application with the city of Chicago on Wednesday, July 18. The application requested the approval of the almost 11-acre lot at 31st and Kedzie in the Southwest side of the city where the nearly 1 million square-foot complex is planned for the campus.
"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 campus. "What makes this idea unique is that once this campus is built, the income from its for-profit elements will supplement the financial needs of the not-for-profit elements, providing a much-needed solution to deliver medical, education and other services to a community that continues to be under resourced."
Through the campus model, rental income from revenue-generating tenants—such as retail stores and schools, hospitality and day care, a parking garage, and the hospital and outpatient clinic—will be reinvested into programs and services provided through the campus, such as continuing education and wellness classes, a center for creativity and a park and recreation center. Beyond being designed to provide the balance necessary to keep the model financially sound, each aspect of the campus was custom-selected based on research by Saint Anthony Ministries on the needs of the community.
"We understand that providing for the health of the community is much broader than traditional health care," said Jim Sifuentes, vice president of mission and community development for Saint Anthony Hospital, who grew up in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, located just a few miles from the new campus site. "For someone to have a shot at a healthy life, you have to be able to buy healthy food, feed your mind with education, nurture your creativity through the arts, have a place to send your kids to keep them off the streets, and have a job to support your family."
According to Medaglia, the campus will generate hundreds of new sustaining jobs for the campus itself and roughly 2,100 construction jobs, with hundreds more expected in retail services.
"This growth is much needed, given the high unemployment rate in the community," said Alderman Michael Chandler, Chicago 24th Ward, one of the areas that will be served by the new Focal Point campus. "What's important is that the sustaining financial nature of the campus also means sustaining, reliable employment for our residents. Top priorities for my ward are job creation and training—this campus brings us both."
Residents of communities surrounding the campus will also be served by retail tenants providing important access to healthy food choices and to staples such as clothing and household goods; wellness programs that will educate on topics such as healthy food preparation, parenting skills and more; basketball courts and a half Olympic-size pool that will provide a sanctuary for at-risk youth; and Saint Anthony Hospital, which—as another tenant of the campus—will continue to provide emergency and medical care that turns no one away, regardless of ability to pay. The newly constructed Saint Anthony Hospital, which will reside at Focal Point, will replace its current location on West 19th Street and California Avenue.
Community Support and Academic Interest
Saint Anthony Ministries, through the work of Saint Anthony Hospital, has overcome tremendous odds to remain a leader in its community. Consciously positioning the hospital as "without walls," Saint Anthony Ministries actively reaches out to members of the community through local organizations and neighborhood schools and churches.
"Despite sitting between two very challenged and racially diverse areas, the hospital has spearheaded a number of programs that are minimizing these divides to bring the community together without violence," said Peter V. Fazio, Jr., chair, Saint Anthony Ministries board. "As a result of this commitment and a concerted effort to engage the community in its improvement, Saint Anthony has developed partnerships with a multitude of elected officials, community leaders and neighborhood organizations on the city's West and Southwest sides."
"Especially in this traditionally divided area of the city, I've 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 Alderman George Cardenas, chairman of the committee on health and environment, Chicago 12th Ward, where the hospital is currently located. "The community values the belief that change is not just possible but likely on the horizon with this inventive campus, and proud that a concept that starts right here in Chicago could serve as a model for other, similar communities across our nation."
"We are excited to have been a part of this concept from its conception and proud that this campus will live in the 22nd Ward," said Alderman Ricardo Munoz. "After learning about all of the work of Saint Anthony and hearing about this innovative self-sustaining community campus model, I wanted to make sure that I provided them with a location that would allow the organization to expand its mission to provide the much needed resources in both the Little Village and North Lawndale communities. These communities deserve this, and I am happy that Saint Anthony has provided the leadership to make it happen."
Local community groups, religious leaders from local area churches and other community leaders were also engaged as part of Saint Anthony Ministries' assessment of community needs and in providing the vision that became the campus model.
"We consider Saint Anthony a true partner, with a shared mission to bring holistic revitalization to North Lawndale residents," said Kim Jackson, executive director of Lawndale Christian Development Corporation. "The campus isn't just another program that will come and go because funding disappears. They're here; they get it. We need a lasting engine for economic empowerment that provides immediate jobs, but also educational and health enrichment for long-term success."
"Addressing the most immediate of issues, our community needs another safe haven, a physically safe and healthy environment, where the true potential of our families isn't hidden," said Michael D. Rodriguez, executive director, Enlace Chicago. "Beyond this physical environment, the campus will offer access to tools for educational advancement that can transform this safe haven into a launch pad for greater economic and personal development—such a powerful motivator for a community that has seen many challenges over the years."
The campus is also attracting interest in academia, and was recently the subject of a research study conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Architecture, and HDR Architecture. In a white paper published in April 2012 that details the study, the research identifies the community-centric hospital as an emerging model of health care and affirms that the Focal Point campus "represents new social, economic, education and wellness opportunities that can significantly improve the health and quality of life of local residents."
More supporters and plans for the Focal Point community campus can be found at www.FocalPointChicago.org.
About Saint Anthony Ministries
Saint Anthony Ministries is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing support and coordination of health care and activities in the community area around Saint Anthony Hospital, a related tax-exempt organization. For more than 100 years, Saint Anthony Hospital has helped carry out this mission by serving its community, consisting of North Lawndale, Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, McKinley Park, Cicero and Berwyn. Saint Anthony Hospital is a "hospital without walls," providing quality health and wellness services, and a wide variety of free bilingual community health education/outreach programs. Saint Anthony Hospital staff work with community-based organizations, schools, parishes and other agencies to offer health education, early childhood and mental health services. To further expand its efforts to support the well-being of the community, Saint Anthony Ministries is spearheading the development of the Focal Point community campus through subsidiaries Chicago Southwest Community Corporation and Chicago Southwest Development Corporation, as well as through Saint Anthony Hospital, which will serve as a tenant of the campus. The Focal Point community campus will provide a variety of programs and services to more than 400,000 residents on the Southwest and West sides of Chicago. More information is available at www.FocalPointChicago.org.
SOURCE Saint Anthony Ministries