LOGAN SQUARE — A sex offender treatment center is moving to Logan Square, and its owners are working to reassure residents that its presence does not pose a threat.
Adelante, described by its owners as "a licensed clinical social work private practice," provides court-mandated therapy to convicted sex offenders, or others who seek treatment on their own. It has been in Wicker Park at 1608 N. Milwaukee Ave. for 25 years, but when the building it was in was sold at the end of October, the owners were given 30 days to move out.
The new spot they found, 2332 N. Milwaukee Ave., just happens to be on one of the hottest blocks in the city right now, with popular destinations such as Revolution Brewing, Chicago Diner and Cole's bar, and more bars and restaurants are on the way.
"There's like five new restaurants opening up there," Rochelle Brophy said at a public meeting with Adelante's owners Thursday afternoon. "We like to go there with our kids. We're not Wicker Park. We're Logan Square. We want value added to our neighborhood."
Owners and therapists Karen Stanbary and Evaristo Ruiz assured residents that Adelante treats low-risk patients, only 5 to 9 percent of whom are likely to reoffend within five years.
"We serve low, low, low-risk sex offenders," Ruiz said. "They've been clinically evaluated, and found to be low-risk."
Stanbary said in most cases, the offenders did not target random people.
"Most sex offenders' victims are known to them," said Stanbary. "We've never treated a sex offender that abused a child on a playground."
Of the 10 or so people who showed up for the meeting, feelings ranged from being a little concerned to downright opposed.
"I feel better about people who are seeking treatment than people who are registered, but aren't getting treatment," said Diane Miller, who has a teenage daughter. "I really appreciate the work they do because it is a huge issue in our culture."
Stanbary said they've never had any incidents or complaints at their Wicker Park clinic, and pointed out that living in a city means living in close proximity to sex offenders. There are 74 sex offenders registered in the 60647 ZIP code alone, she said, information that can be found on the Illinois Sex Offender Registry.
"If you live in a city, it's a dense urban population," she said. "It's a trade-off."
According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, there are at least a dozen other private practices in the city that provide state-approved treatment to sex offenders, including another one in Logan Square — in the 3200 block of West Armitage Avenue.
But some residents were not convinced.
"We have registered sex offenders in our ZIP code, but a sex offender doesn't register where they're being treated," said Courtney DePinto, who has two children under 2. "I think they could better help the community in a high-rise building in an industrial area."
The building's owner, Patricia Rangel, suggested that perhaps residents should be more concerned about another bar moving into the block than a sex offender treatment practice.
"My building manager sometimes has to clean up vomit, feces — it's disgusting," she said.
Rangel said she's careful about who she rents space to — her law practice also is in the building — and feels confident Stanbary, Ruiz and Adelante will be good tenants.
"I think this whole thing's been blown out of proportion, " she said.
Still, Stanbary and Ruiz said they will try to get more information out about their practice and hold more meetings.
"Sex offenders in your community are a reality," Stanbary said. "Maybe we'll have a meeting on 'Everything you've ever wanted to know about sex offenders but were afraid to ask.'"