LITTLE VILLAGE — An abandoned library is getting a new lease on life in Little Village.
Latinos Progresando, a nonprofit that provides legal aid to immigrants, is converting the old Marshall Square library building at 2724 W. Cermak Rd. into their new offices. The rehabbed building will also feature a community space for public use.
The nonprofit group received a $250,000 grant through the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund program to help with the conversion of the abandoned building.
Created in 2016, the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund charges developers additional fees in return for allowing them to build bigger and taller buildings downtown. Funds from the program are then used to provide resources to blighted areas and encourage development on the city’s South and West Sides.
More than a dozen developments have already paid into the fund.
The 9,330 square-foot former library building will become Latinos Progresando’s headquarters, and the building’s first floor will house offices for the organization’s legal immigration, educational, cultural and mental health services.
The second floor will be a turned into a community space for meetings and a hub for cultural activities and events, according to Luis Gutierrez, CEO and founder of Latinos Progresando.
“There isn’t really space where you can convene that’s open to the public, particularly on the Cermak corridor,” Gutierrez said.
The CEO said the Latinos Progresando space would offer cultural events for the community, as well as youth-focused programming in art, theater and music.
The organization is in the process of working on schematic designs for the building, and will hold community meetings about the center this year, Gutierrez said.
First founded on 18th Street, Latinos Progresando has been offering immigration resources to the Little Village community and other parts of the city since 1998.
Currently located at 3047 W. Cermak Road, the nonprofit expects to move its offices into the new building by spring 2020. It will be called the Latinos Progresando Community Center when it opens.
The Marshall Square library branch closed in November 2009 and was replaced with the Little Village branch, 2311 S. Kedzie Ave., when it opened in 2011.
The city still owns the old Marshall Square library building and Latinos Progresando plans to raise money to pay for the rest of the redevelopment project, said Adrienne Lange, the organization’s chief advancement officer.
“We’ve started taking steps toward ownership, and our hope is that Latinos Progresando will own the building by the end of the year,” she said in a statement.