HUMBOLDT PARK — City commissioners this week approved a plan that would bring a $24 million wellness center to the heart of Humboldt Park.
Humboldt Park Health, formerly Norwegian Hospital, is looking to build a three-story, 45,500-square-foot wellness center on a vacant lot it owns at 2933 W. Division St.
The facility, designed by local architecture firm JGMA, would house a swimming pool and a track open to neighborhood residents, along with other community spaces that promote wellness, hospital CEO Jose Sanchez said. It would also offer health care services such as rehab for stroke victims, Sanchez said.
On Thursday, the project moved one step closer to reality, with hospital leaders scoring key approval from the city’s Plan Commission. The plan still needs final approval from the full City Council.
With the wellness center, hospital leaders hope to improve health outcomes for Humboldt Park residents, who disproportionately suffer from diabetes and congestive heart failure, among other conditions, Sanchez said. A Sinai Urban Health Institute survey from 2018 also found many Humboldt Park residents suffer from food insecurity.
“Rather than reacting to illnesses, we’re really focusing on wellness for the community,” Sanchez said.
Funding for the center includes a $19 million state grant and $5 million from the hospital’s coffers, Sanchez said.
If all goes according to plan, Humboldt Park Health will begin construction in June, Sanchez said. Construction is expected to take about 18 months.
The wellness center is the first part of a six-phase project aimed at putting hospital land to better use, Sanchez said. Hospital leaders are looking to build affordable housing, a senior center and commercial buildings in the area surrounding the hospital in the coming years, he said.
“We really have a significant number of empty lots in our area, some as big as a full city block,” Sanchez said.
This is the second wellness center planned for the area surrounding Humboldt Park Health. Local home health organization ASI Home Care is trying to open a $7 million wellness and workforce development center just a few blocks away on a piece of land Humboldt Park owns.
The two projects are separate and only tied because Humboldt Park Health is involved in both deals, Sanchez and ASI’s CEO Marta Cerda said. Sanchez said the ASI deal is currently being reviewed by the hospital board and has not been finalized yet.
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