AUBURN GRESHAM — Community leaders will celebrate the grand opening of a South Side healthy living center with the “bells and whistles best befit for a Hollywood premiere,” and all neighbors are welcome.
The Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation will host a grand opening and open house celebration at the Healthy Lifestyle Hub 4-7 p.m. Friday at 839 W. 79th St. The event is free. You can register here.
The community event comes one month after the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, which spearheaded the hub, cut the ribbon on the nearly 100-year-old vacant building with city officials. The hub won the first Pritzker Traubert Foundation’s $10 million Chicago Prize in 2020.
Last month’s ribbon cutting was a formal gathering, with space given to people influential in the healthy living center’s creation, said Carlos Nelson, director of the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation.
Friday’s event will be a celebration where neighbors can roam the four floors of the hub with music and food.
“The intent of doing the grand opening open house is to give the community a much-deserved celebration, one we know befits a great community that’s on the rise,” Nelson said.
Neighbors won’t have trouble finding the Healthy Lifestyle Hub Friday.
Bright, Hollywood-esque spotlights will beam for the evening, while a red carpet will stretch down 79th Street into the lobby, Nelson said.
A saxophonist and pianist will play tunes as guests explore the building, and a live band will set up on the fourth floor. Food stations with catered tacos, Caribbean food and more will be readily available in the high-tech kitchen and training center sponsored by a $600,000 donation from the Chicago Bears.
For the first time, neighbors can tour the new businesses and neighborhood essentials the hub has brought to their community, Nelson said.
Representatives from Bank of America, one of the hub’s tenants, will talk neighbors through their services on the ground floor.
On the second floor, neighbors can explore the UI Health Clinic and Urgent Care Center, which will provide medical, dental, mental health care support and more to patients.
On the third floor, neighbors can learn more about Heartland Alliance and the UIC Neighborhood Center, a spot offering tutoring and small business workshops. The Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation will have its services on display on the fourth floor.
Neighbors can also get to know the hub’s newest tenant, Juiced by Shic.
The vacant cafe space in the hub will now be occupied by the Black-owned business, which is operated by a husband-and-wife duo with roots on the South Side. Juiced by Shic will sell smoothies, salads, soups and wraps, complementing the hub’s Mikkey’s Retro Grill.
The night will cap with an “old school Auburn Gresham house party,” with a heated-tent performance by Auburn Gresham native DJ Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, Nelson said.
“After years of disinvestment, seeing the building redeveloped with purpose is pretty awesome,” Nelson said. “It’s been a long time in the making, but I’m thrilled. This is what I’ve been waiting for, to unveil this to the community.”
When the lights dim and the red carpet is rolled up, the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation will get back to work, Nelson said.
The next goal is to raise enough funding to open a Women’s Health Center in the hub, Nelson said.
One day, women in the community will visit the 4,000-square-foot center for prenatal and postnatal care and “have a safe place for their physical and mental health,” Nelson said.
The South Side group also wants to activate a closed CVS building across the street from the hub and use the parking lot for parking spaces, Nelson said.
For now, it’s one step at a time, Nelson said.
“The community deserves this,” Nelson said. “They deserve something as wondrous as what we’re going to give them.”
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