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Morgan Park senior living home finishes $23 million renovation

The Smith Village senior living community has modernized its Johanson Wing and will begin accepting admissions in November.

The exterior of the new Smith Village Rehab Center in Morgan Park, Wednesday morning, Sept. 29, 2021. Mark Capapas/Sun-Times.
Smith Village in Morgan Park has completed a $23 million renovation project.
Mark Capapas/Sun-Times.

Residents in Morgan Park’s Smith Village senior living home have a new, three-story building filled with modern amenities at their disposal as they “age in place.”

In a $23 million renovation, the Johanson Wing at 2320 W. 113th Place is more than 50,000 square feet with 78 beds, 66 of which are in private suites.

For Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th), whose ward includes Smith Village, the renovations are personal.

“My father’s been a resident here for the last several years. Before that, my mother during her last years of failing health,” he said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the facility Wednesday. “This is so important to the future of our community, and as our seniors age that they continue to be able to live lives of independence.”

Joining the alderman Wednesday was Cook County Commissioner John P. Daley; Kay Thurn, board chair at Smith; Kevin McGee, president and CEO; and Marti Jatis, executive director.

The ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Smith Village Rehab Center in Morgan Park, Wednesday morning, Sept. 29, 2021. Mark Capapas/Sun-Times
Smith Village held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday for a $23 million renovation.
Mark Capapas/Sun-Times

The wing is named after Gary Johanson, who retired from the facility in 2002 after 22 years in the leadership and died in July.

Although McGee said the building hadn’t been renovated since 1991, when it was built, Thurn said modifications for a salon, pub, theater and therapy fitness center were made over the past four years.

With the current renovations, the facility decreased beds from 100 to 78, which quadrupled the number of private suites offered. The first floor is 22 private rooms all designated to rehab.

The renovations were completed six months sooner than expected. According to McGee, the project was initially set to be completed in four phases.

“When COVID hit, we stopped taking admissions, and so we were able accelerate the schedule from four phases down to two to finish the project six months in advance,” he explained.

While some of the money for the project came from a $1.3 million authorization by the Smith Senior Living Board of Trustee, most of the financing came through private bonds the company has with First Midwest and Huntington banks.

A room inside the new Smith Village Rehab Center in Morgan Park, Wednesday morning, Sept. 29, 2021. Mark Capapas/Sun-Times
A room at Smith Village in Morgan Park.
Mark Capapas/Sun-Times

With the renovations, rates for rooms haven’t gone up but more residents will now be paying for private suites instead of semi-private rooms. McGee said it is “what the market wanted.”

Before starting construction, Smith Village held a “ focus group.” with the architects to ask residents, family members and prospective residents to determine what amenities were wanted in the renovation.

Smith Village has 40 beds occupied. The north end of the building is open for occupancy; McGee said they plan to open the south end in November.

Cheyanne M. Daniels is a staff reporter for the 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 Side and West Side.