Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Park District CEO Rosa Escareño were joined by community members for a ribbon cutting at the new Park District headquarters May 5, 2023. Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago

BRIGHTON PARK — A years-long project to move the Park District’s headquarters out of Downtown is complete.

City leaders and community members held a ribbon-cutting Friday morning to celebrate the opening of the Park District’s 17-acre headquarters at 4800 S. Western Ave. in Brighton Park.

The campus features 58,100 square feet of office space and a 20,000-square-foot field house with a gym, fitness center and multi-purpose rooms. Alongside the office building are two large turf fields, a playground and splash pad.

Park District staff will begin moving into their offices in early June, and camps will be held at the facilities this summer, said Park District CEO Rosa Escareño.

Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Park District headquarters in Brighton Park May 5, 2023. Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago

Plans to move the Park District’s headquarters and its 200 employees to the Southwest Side were announced in 2018 by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel. City Council approved the plans in 2020, and construction started in July 2021.

The Park District has been headquartered at the Time-Life Building in Streeterville since 2001.

“For the residents and families of this neighborhood who didn’t have conveniently located spaces to get together, to gather and play, this park will be transformative to family time and family lives,” Lightfoot said at the ribbon-cutting. “Rather than take the ‘L’ or a bus to find a playground or grass to have a picnic on, it’s all right here in this neighborhood.”

The mayor said the large project highlights the city’s dedication to bringing amenities to South and West side neighborhoods. The headquarters is less than a mile from an economic revitalization project neat 47th Street and Ashland Avenue.

“Both the Park District headquarters and the nearby Invest South/West developments will invite residents and visitors to this community and strengthen and facilitate the revitalization of this community,” she said.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaking at the ribbon cutting of the new Park District headquarters in Brighton Park May 5, 2023. Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago

Escareño said the park agency being embedded in the neighborhood underscores “the importance of green space in urban settings, in building healthy communities and ensuring that our communities are vibrant.”

“The unique combination of workplace and recreation space has not been done before … and it is rare to have that in a public-service-type industry, so we’re very proud to be true trailblazers in parks in that way,” she said.

Beginning this summer, the Brighton Park campus will offer a six-week day camp 10 a.m.-4 p.m. to kids 6-12, as well as an early bird camp 8:30-10 a.m. and an extended camp 4-5:30 p.m., according to park officials. In August, there will be a girls basketball camp and play camp.

Kids 13-15 can also apply to become junior counselors and assist with day camp activities.

Park officials will host an information session soon regarding how to enroll kids in the summer camps.

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