The Ringer Bank Building was once a hub of South Side business operations for businessman Charles Ringer.
But after a stint as a car dealership, the 1928 building sat vacant for years on the corner of 79th Street and Exchange Avenue in South Shore.
Chicago Family Health Center and DL3 Realty now want to breathe life back into the three-story building as part of a revitalization effort for the area through Thrive Exchange, officials said.
The project, which includes a health care center, apartments and retail, is one of six finalists for the Pritzker Traubert Foundation’s $10 million Chicago Prize 2022.
The prize is part of a $30 million commitment from the foundation to increase development over the next three years on the South and West sides. The winner of the Chicago Prize will be announced in December.
The Thrive Exchange project would bring an affordable health care center to the 20,000-square-foot Ringer building.
Near the building, two apartment buildings with 76 units and 24 condos with affordable price tags also would be part of the $100 million project. Apartments would rent at 60% of the median area income. There also would be 16,000 square feet of space for retail use.
About 450 jobs are expected to be created.
Thrive Exchange will help provide basic needs the South Shore and South Chicago community have been lacking for years, said Sherry Pace, CEO of Chicago Family Health.
The center will focus on health care but also provide dental and behavioral health services.
This is Chicago Family’s first foray into housing and retail. The South Side-based health services group has six other center locations.
“We think it’s important that all of these things come together, because when you look at the social determinants of health, folks are not going to be focused on medication and trips to the doctor and wellness exams if they’re concerned about housing, transportation or employment opportunity,” Pace said.
The project has already received $60 million through the city’s Invest South/West 2021 competition. The Chicago Prize money would allow officials to redevelop Star Plaza strip mall, which sits across the street from the Ringer building, for more retail as well as for live-work lofts that allow entrepreneurs to live in the community.
“We knew that we had to go even bigger to make the impact that was necessary to really change the historic, vicious cycle (of divestment) that has gripped this community for 50 years and turn the clock back,” said Leon Walker, managing partner of DL3 Realty.
If it doesn’t receive the Chicago Prize, Chicago Family will look for other funding to help pay for the plan, Pace said.
Construction is expected to start next year and wrap up in 2025, Pace said.
The Chicago Sun-Times receives funding from the Pritzker Traubert Foundation.
Mariah Rush is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South and West sides.