2704 Harlem Ave., Riverside

A new drive-thru/walk-up COVID-19 testing site will begin providing free PCR and rapid screenings to the general public by June 1 at 2704 Harlem Ave. in Riverside, the property that most recently housed a TitleMax business.

The testing site is being operated by a Lombard-based company called Center for COVID Control, which has more than two-dozen locations through the Chicago area. 

Hass Bilgrami, a spokesman for the company, said the company has a month-to-month lease at 2704 Harlem Ave. but that he expected the testing site to be open for 9 months to a year, depending on how well the disease and new variants are contained.

“It’s all contingent on that,” Bilgrami said.

According to Bilgrami, those wanting to be tested do not need to make an appointment. Walk-ins will be welcome inside the building, where chairs will be physically distanced.

Those driving can park in the lot and follow directions on signs that will be posted, instructing them to turn on their vehicle’s hazard lights. Tests will be brought to the vehicles by a staff member.

Although those wanting to be tested are asked to bring a driver’s license or state ID (parent IDs can be used for children) and an insurance card, if they have one, they will not be billed for the tests.

Results from the more accurate PCR tests will be available within 24 to 48 hours, said Bilgrami. Those requesting a rapid test – which is only about 65-percent accurate, said Bilgrami – will still be offered a PCR test as well.

The testing site won’t open its doors until some roof and fascia repairs are completed on the building. The hours of the site have not been posted, but other Center for COVID Control site generally operate between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Building purchased last December

Center for COVID Control is leasing the space from Dr. Milad Nourahmadi, who purchased the property at 2704 Harlem Ave. last December for $600,000. Nourahmadi also owns the strip mall at 2720 Harlem Ave., where his Shining Smiles dental practice is located.

Nourahmadi told the Landmark that he had initially planned to construct a 6,300-square-foot mixed-use building on that property and the village-owned parcel at 2710 Harlem Ave.

“Unfortunately, given the significant increase in the cost of construction materials and labor and limitations with parking, it makes zero financial sense to redevelop the area,” Nourahmadi said.

Nourahmadi said that another long-rumored use for the 2704 Harlem Ave. property – for an adult-use cannabis dispensary – had not materialized.

“I received some interest from two cannabis companies, but due to the state of Illinois delaying licensing, they were not able to commit to anything,” he said.

However, Nourahmadi said a cannabis dispensary in the future is not necessarily out of the question.

“I’m still in contact with one of the brokers that represents them, and they’re still interested,” he said. “I think once the licenses get going something might come out of it.”

Nourahmadi said he alternately had hoped to purchase the village-owned parcel and convert it into parking for the strip mall at 2720 Harlem Ave., but the village declined to sell it for that use.

“I don’t believe that site will make sense for any business to [redevelop] given how small the parcel is, but the village seems content leaving it as is and waiting,” Nourahmadi said.