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Focal Point: The Future of Community Development


There's nothing like Focal Point. When the 11-acre community campus, a public/private partnership, is complete in 2018, it will serve more than 400,000 West and Southwest Side residents with Saint Anthony Hospital, retail, education, and more. (You could get lost in there and be totally self-sufficient, like Dr. Livingstone... we presume.)


Chicago Southwest Development Corp's Chris Raguso (second from left, with three of her staff) and JLL's Joe Caprile will tell us more tomorrow at Bisnow's Chicago Construction & Development Summit. It all dates back to '07, Chris says (if you don't remember that far back, that was the year "Fergalicious" by Fergie hit the airwaves), when Saint Anthony was owned by Ascension Health, financial performance was at a low point, and the company wanted to shut the hospital down. Enter Guy Medaglia from FTI Healthcare: He came on as CEO and gave the hospital a private-sector makeover. After Guy told Mayor Daley about "the best kept secret in Lawndale" in '09, the hospital separated from Ascension, and the mayor suggested 31st and Kedzie as the new site for the revitalized 115-year-old institution.


Given the hospital's high Medicare/Medicaid population in the Little Village and North Lawndale communities and the trend toward outpatient care, Focal Point will have a strong commercial aspect to sustain the site. They will take a self-sustaining holistic approach to wellness, Chris says, viewing health through diet, education, and recreation. As owner's rep and leasing agent, JLL has worked to involve the community in the retail portion, compile feasibility research, and assist with the municipal side, project management, and budgeting, Joe says (right, during construction of Roosevelt's new vertical campus, another project he worked on). Offerings so far include a charter school (plus a community soccer field), childcare facility, hospitality areas for local residents' use, and much more to be announced soon.


Currently in the midst of land acquisition, Focal Point (rendering above) will push the envelope in ensuring strong MBE-WBE numbers in addition to local hiring, Chris and Joe tell us. (The hospital just completed a community clinic at 26th and Albany on time and on budget, with 49% local hiring.) "It's critical for us to validate the project because it's so new," Chris adds. And they have in spades, with a study from August Partners, a white paper from the University of Nebraska, and an AIA award for the original master plan. They'll soon host an event for the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, and other hospitals are taking notice of the innovative concept.