LAKEVIEW — Howard Brown Health’s plans to move its Lakeview center to a new, five-story building along the Northalsted strip are moving forward after they received critical city approval Tuesday.
The city’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards approved a rezoning request that would allow the LGBTQ-affirming health provider to redevelop the lot at 3501–3519 N. Halsted St. into a full-service medical clinic.
The facility would double the capacity of Howard Brown’s existing Lakeview clinic at 3245 N. Halsted St., which is at capacity with about 6,000 patients, CEO David Ernesto Munar said during a September community meeting. It would also allow patients to access all of Howard Brown’s services from a central location.
“It’s very crucial that a person can get their entire care here because people are much more likely to get the full health care they need when everything can be met in one facility,” Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said at the time.
The clinic would offer more space for Howard Brown’s walk-in sexual and reproductive health clinic, and it would allow the organization to offer dental services on the North Side.
The first floor would have a lobby, pharmacy and 5,600 square feet of retail space, according to the proposal. The second and third floors would house Howard Brown’s medical clinic, while the dental clinic would operate from the fourth floor.
The fifth floor, which would be set back 14 feet from Halsted Street and Cornelia Avenue, is planned to house the center’s behavioral health, social services and administrative offices.
The clinic was originally designed to be six floors, but developers said they scaled it back at the request of neighbors concerned about its size.
One neighbor asked the zoning committee to reject the proposal, saying they felt its scale didn’t fit in with the rest of the neighborhood.
But the committee’s chairman, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), whose ward borders the property, said the proposal fits in with taller properties in the neighborhood such as the Center on Halsted, an LGBTQ center two blocks north.
“Whether it be the Center on Halsted or our LGBTQ senior housing, there is some compatible nature around there, and most buildings as we move [north] are four-story buildings,” Tunney said.
The 17,900-square-foot lot where Howard Brown plans to relocate includes the site of historic Little Jim’s Tavern, which closed in July.
Little Jim’s opened in 1975 and was the first gay bar along the Northalsted strip. Munar said at the September community meeting Howard Brown’s new center would carry on its legacy.
“That was a historic meeting place and destination for the LGBTQ community, so we found this was an elegant way to honor its history by bringing services to a corner where our community previously organized,” Munar said.
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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