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The Mechanics
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Health Care Wed Oct 16 2013

Southwest Health Care Campus Wins Architecture Award

An award from the American Institute of Architects is the latest bit of positive attention the new Focal Point Community Campus has received since the plan was announced December 2012.

Focal Point will serve the Little Village area as well as North Lawndale, Pilsen, Brighton Park, Back of the Yards and Archer Heights.

HDR Architecture, the firm behind the project, conceives the campus as "both an anchor and change agent" serving the neighborhoods surrounding the barren post-industrial area once occupied by Washburne Trade School.

The idea for a healthcare campus originated with Guy Medaglia, CEO of Saint Anthony Hospital and Chicago Southwest Development Corporation. According to Jacinda Adams, director of marketing and public relations at the hospital, Mayor Daley approached Medaglia wondering what Saint Anthony would do with the land once occupied by the Washburne. Rather than simply building a new hospital, Medaglia proposed the healthcare campus as a self-sustaining model in a time when state and federal resources are dwindling.

A new facility for Saint Anthony Hospital, which is currently located in a 118-year-old building at 2875 W. 19th St., will be one of many components of the project.

According to the American Institute of Architects, Focal Point stands out as a healthcare facility because of the multi-pronged approach to community health care it aims to accommodate -- the model includes retail space, an educational center, childcare facilities and areas for recreation. Adams said non-profit programs offered at Focal Point will be subsidized by the revenue generated from tenant spaces and other profit-making initiatives to ensure needed services will not falter due to a lack of funding.

"It will prevent programs that are succeeding in the community from getting cut when funders say, 'Yeah, we've changed direction and we can't fund this anymore'," Adams said. This is a problem she said she sees often.

Adams said Saint Anthony Hospital itself was struggling until Medaglia took leadership, turning around a facility that was millions of dollars in debt and on the verge of closing. She credits this success to the hospital's efforts to reach out to surrounding communities and determine what services local residents really needed.

"We can't just build a Macy's if they don't want a Macy's," Adams said.

A recent retail market survey of about 6,000 local residents will inform what services and programs will ultimately be offered by Focal Point. In terms of the retail spaces Focal Point will include, Adams said she knows who might be occupying the spaces but declined to comment officially on the matter.

The total expected cost of the project is $435 million, with an estimated $100 to $200 million coming from individuals, $50 million from corporations, $50 million from federal funding and $15 million from local foundations.

Since the plan's inception, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has come out in support of the project, including it in his "strategic vision" for encouraging growth in seven Chicago neighborhoods.

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