Plans for a $600 million, 22-acre mixed-use campus are a step closer to transforming the city’s West Side, and no one’s happier than Guy Medaglia.
In 2012, the hospital CEO took on the project that could bring jobs and cachet to the North Lawndale and Little Village neighborhoods.
What’s unusual about Focal Point Community Campus, as it’s called, is that it’s a nonprofit development created as a for-profit business.
“The profits that an investor would receive from building a complex will go back to a foundation, and money will get redistributed to the community we serve,” explained Medaglia, who’s also president and CEO of Saint Anthony Hospital. “It’s self-sustaining. It’s a project that doesn’t (yet) exist anywhere.”
Focal Point will be on the former site of the Washburne Trade School campus. A few weeks ago, the city sold the unused property for $1 to the Chicago Southwest Development Corp., the nonprofit foundation developing the campus.
Medaglia said just one more piece of property is needed to move forward with the project.
“Until we get that final parcel, no attorney in their right mind is going to tell a client to write a check,” he said.
Ideally, foundation money will allow the development to operate as a business would.
“In the for-profit world, you work to make money for investors. That’s easy. If you do something to help a community or people who really need and want resources, it’s more challenging,” Medaglia said.
He’s a former business consultant who’s been leading the nonprofit Saint Anthony since 2010.
Back then, the hospital was struggling to stay afloat. Medaglia helped turn it around and, in the process, he developed a connection to the community.
“I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, in a similar neighborhood,” Medaglia said. “We have to get our kids off the streets.”
He hopes to create jobs through the project’s construction and the eventual tenants: a newly built Saint Anthony’s as well as a rec center, day care facilities, retail shops and affordable housing.
The project has consumed Medaglia. Friends tell him they’d have given up. “But we’re not giving up,” he said. “We’re sticking around until this thing is built. And then we’ll find out if it works.”
Winning chef’s next project
Sarah Grueneberg, named the Great Lakes region’s best chef at last week’s James Beard Awards, can finally focus on her next project: Marriage.
She dished about her personal life moments after being recognized for her work at Monteverde, the West Loop modern Italian restaurant.
Grueneberg and Jaime Canete, a managing partner at the restaurant, met in 2005 while working the line together at Spiaggia.
Six years ago, they got engaged but put wedding plans on hold while starting up Monteverde — and then working for a Beard.
With both goals accomplished, they can think about gold rings instead of medals.
“No date yet or even an idea of when,” Grueneberg said in a follow-up this week. “But sometime soon, we hope.”
This gift deserves a Clapper
A Chicago social services agency has received a major gift from the person who made Chia Pet and The Clapper famous.
Joe Pedott is matching every dollar raised for SGA Youth & Family Services up to $1 million.
The San Francisco resident has a deep connection to SGA. He grew up Chicago and at age 16 ran away from home.
“I was sleeping on a cot and living off of a hot plate. A friend found me and told me about SGA. I started meeting with a counselor — someone who I could tell my grief, my problems, my frustrations. Someone who could guide me,” he said in a release announcing the gift. “I will never forget where I came from.”
Donations can be made online or by calling (312) 663-0305.
Duncan, Gainer talk jobs
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer have been knocking on business doors looking for jobs for young people.
Duncan headlined the City Club last week to promote Emerson Collective, which works in troubled communities.
He told the business crowd that he’s talked to gang-bangers about what it would take to get them to put down their guns. Consistently, he said, it’s a job paying $12 to $13 an hour. “It’s peanuts. Peanuts.”
Gainer is behind the Aon Apprenticeship Program that’s connecting City Colleges students to office jobs. She hopes other companies will follow suit.
It’s not about having a fancy degree, she said. “But really, the skills required may just need someone who can be trained and who’s smart and ready to work.”
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