NORTHALSTED — Howard Brown Health, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ health care organization, launched construction Friday on a Northalsted center that will double its patient capacity and bring its dental care program to the North Side.
The 3501 N. Halsted St. facility will replace Howard Brown’s Northalsted clinic at 3245 N. Halsted St., which has been at capacity for years, Howard Brown President and CEO David Ernesto Munar said.
“We are deeply out of space at that location,” Munar said. “We’ve not been able to see any new patients at that location for many years, and our other locations, including our Sheridan one at Irving Park and Sheridan, are also deeply out of space.”
Howard Brown Health was founded in 1974 and serves about 30,000 patients annually across its 12 clinics across the North, South and West sides. The organization is also fundraising to open a new South Side community center, officials said.
The new Northalsted center will double Howard Brown’s capacity in the neighborhood from the 6,000 patients served at the current clinic, Munar said in 2020.
The five-story building will include expanded medical care and social services, while adding a second Howard Brown dental clinic on the North Side, Munar said.
Howard Brown opened its first dental clinic in 2017 at 641 W. 63rd St. in Englewood, said Dr. Robin Gay, chief dental officer for the organization.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to provide that loving, affirming and comprehensive dental care for our patients, so we’re thrilled to be able to offer these services on the North Side,” Gay said.
The 71,000-square-foot building, designed by Eckenhoff Saunders architects, is expected to open in 2023.
Its first floor will have a lobby, pharmacy and 5,600 square feet of retail space, according to plans presented in 2020. The second and third floors will house Howard Brown’s medical clinic, while the dental clinic will operate from the fourth floor. The fifth floor is planned to house the center’s behavioral health, social services and administrative offices.
The 17,900-square-foot lot where Howard Brown is building the new facility once housed the historic Little Jim’s Tavern, which closed in July 2020. Little Jim’s opened in 1975 and was the first gay bar along the Northalsted strip.
Munar said that that Howard Brown’s new center would carry on its legacy as a historic meeting place and destination for LGBTQ people.
“Little Jims served as a meeting place for the gay community for many years,” Munar said. “When the owners decided to sell the property and retire, it coincided with Howard Brown’s ambitions to move its current Halsted location to a bigger location.”
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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