Salvation Army to move from West Loop location
October 7, 2011
The Salvation Army will move from its cramped quarters at Monroe Street and Ashland Avenue to a large new complex inWest Humboldt Park.

By Miriam Y. Cintrón

The Salvation Army announced plans to close its community center and transitional living facility at Monroe Street and Ashland Avenue and move to a larger site in West Humboldt Park.

Although the organization has outgrown its current location, the change will be bittersweet. The
current facility at 1515 W. Monroe St., known as the Harbor Light Center, has been an important part of the neighborhood since 1976, according to the center’s Captain Merrill Powers. He noted the Salvation Army and Harbor Light have seen the community grow, provided important services to residents over the years, and worked with the community on various initiatives.

Repairing the aging building would have been too expensive, and the cost to tear it down and build a new facility in that location would have been prohibitive, Powers said.

The move marks a significant expansion for the Salvation Army. The $50 million project will see the center go from 180,000 square feet and about 420 beds to 200,000 square feet and nearly 500 beds.

The new Freedom Center, to be located at 816 N. Spaulding Ave., will house the Harbor Light Center, which helps former substance abusers recover from addiction; a re-integration program for ex-offenders; and a social services component with religious programs for the community.

Finding and negotiating for the property began more than two years ago, Powers explained. The West Humboldt Park Development Council helped the Salvation Army present its plans to the community and made the planned transition a “smooth process,” he said. The center, which has been mostly well received by residents, will aim to “be part of the community and be a good neighbor,” added Powers. It will partner with other agencies and community leaders to identify and serve the area’s needs, providing spiritual and educational programs. “It will be a blessing to the community,” Powers said.

The move will not happen for some time, though. Demolishing the manufacturing warehouses currently at the site and constructing the new center will begin next fall, with completion expected in spring 2014. When the time comes to move, Powers said the Salvation Army will work with Alderman Robert Fioretti (2nd Ward) to find a buyer for the current Harbor Light facility.

For more information on the Salvation Army, visit www.salarmychicago.org.