Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois said Monday it will open a community health center and office space in a former Target store in Morgan Park, where it plans to eventually bring 550 jobs.
The health insurer said it will begin construction this summer at 11840 S. Marshfield Ave. and should have the space ready by mid-2020. It is leasing 130,000 square feet that Target vacated in February amid substantial criticism that it was investing in upscale North Side locations while abandoning stores in Morgan Park and Chatham on the South Side.
Blue Cross is branching out by bringing health care resources closer to neighborhoods with critical needs. In February, it opened its first such venture, the Blue Door Neighborhood Center in Pullman, where it offers wellness classes and referrals for services such as food and transportation.
“We are member-owned, so our focus is on the needs of our members and the communities in which they live — not shareholders,” said Maurice Smith, president of Health Care Service Corp., which owns Blue Cross Blue Shield Illinois. “We are committed to improving the communities where we operate, which includes tackling health issues and societal factors, such as joblessness, that keep people from being their best selves.”
Smith said the space will be multifunctional to serve the community and Blue Cross employees.
Blue Cross is not receiving government subsidies for the location, spokeswoman Colleen Miller said. She said most of the jobs will be new but some will be transfers from other Blue Cross locations.
The company’s announcement included a statement of support from Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “This facility represents the type of collaboration, partnership and investment we need to improve the lives of residents while also boosting the economic development of our communities,” Lightfoot said.
“I am grateful to Blue Cross and Blue Shield for recognizing the bright talent and value available across Chicago, as well as their commitment to our citywide mission of growing jobs, creating opportunity and improving the health and life outcomes for all Chicagoans.”
Blue Cross is leasing the space from DL3 Realty, operated by South Side developer Leon Walker.