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Edgewater Hospital’s future: Housing? Park?

roeder reports

David Roeder reports on real estate 6:22 p.m. Thursdays on WBBM-AM (780). The reports are repeated at 10:22 p.m. Thursday and 7:22 a.m. Sunday.

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Owners of the former Edgewater Hospital at 5700 N. Ashland have been shopping around plans to redevelop the roughly three-acre site, now an eyesore in an upscale neighborhood.

However, their plan is a long way from getting the local support that’s necessary for a city zoning change. The neighborhood’s alderman, Patrick O’Connor (40th), said the developers have curtailed the scope of the project but that city planners believe their proposal is still too dense. “Right now, I’m tending to side with the planning and zoning folks” on the matter, O’Connor said.

Waveland Partners LLC, a venture run by two developers with experience downtown and in the suburbs, has proposed replacing the main hospital along Ashland with a nine-story building. The design calls for retail space, such as a grocery store, on the ground floor and homes above it.

Property running west along the side streets would get parking garages at the bottoms of seven-story buildings, some 16 single-family homes, and a park at the southeast corner of Edgewater and Hermitage. About 300 homes are contemplated in all.

Waveland’s partners are Edward Polich and Nicholas Wilder, former executives at Lcor Inc. The property is controlled by the former hospital’s creditors, led by European bank Dexia, which brought in Waveland to design a plan to pass muster with City Hall and maximize the land’s value.

But many in the West Edgewater area are holding out for making the entire site a park. “We’ve been owned by developers for way too long,” said Christopher Swan, a founder of West Edgewater Area Residents. He said surveys have shown his community is among the most starved for open space in Chicago.

The proposal as presented “is somebody’s fantasy. Nobody’s going to be buying condos there,” he said. An advisory referendum to turn the site into a park will be on the Feb. 22 election ballot in adjoining precincts.

O’Connor said establishing a park would cost $20 million to $30 million, and “that money just doesn’t exist.” Swan, however, argued that the city could start with tax-increment financing surpluses and turn to grants and other sources to come up with the cash.

SAVING OF THE GREEN: Does environmental sustainability mean a thing when it comes to banks? We’ll find out. GreenChoice Bank, which markets its commitment to “sustainable business operations,” has opened at 5225 W. 25th St., Cicero and 838 S. State St., Lockport. The owners acquired Family Federal Savings of Illinois last July and has rebranded those two sites. It also plans to open in Chicago’s Green Exchange at 2545 W. Diversey.

SONO IS GO-GO: Sources said W. Harris “Bill” Smith’s Smithfield Properties LLC has secured financing to start a second tower, a rental building, in his SoNo development in the North-Clybourn-Halsted area. The plan is said to call for a building next to the existing tower at 860 W. Blackhawk. But in a design switch, the buildings will be parallel, a choice that will block views for some in the current building. Smith was unavailable for comment and the architects he is working with at Antunovich Associates and Berkelhamer Architects declined interviews.

WEST PULLMAN UPDATE: The small businesses in West Pullman that saw their property tax bills shoot sky high because of a new taxing district called a special service area have gained a victory. Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), following through on a pledge from last month, got an ordinance repealing the district through the City Council’s Finance Committee on Monday, and approval by the full council is expected today.

RANDOM OBSERVATION: If your alderman sticks his or her campaign signs on empty storefronts and the ugliest vacant lots in your neighborhood, you need a new alderman.

OOPS! A corrected reference from last week — the Whole Foods Market regional headquarters lease at 640 N. La Salle was negotiated by Newmark Knight Frank, representing Whole Foods, and Jones Lang La Salle Inc., representing building ownership.

DOING THE DEALS: Crain Communications Inc., owner of Crain’s Chicago Business, is moving its offices in spring 2012 from 360 N. Michigan to 150 N. Michigan, where it will take 54,000 square feet. Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., which represented the building in the lease talks, said the structure will be renamed the Crain Communications Building. ... Luggage store Vera Bradley plans to open this spring in 1,900 square feet in Water Tower Place. ... Spanish interior and furniture design company is opening a showroom at 220 W. Erie, its first outlet here and third in the United States. ... Orland Park-based Diliberto Real Estate Services LLC has signed a partnership with Chicago-based Gar Wood Securities LLC to jointly offer real estate consulting and capital raising services. President Frank Diliberto said the combined approach will help clients with a variety of real estate challenges, ... CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. and Sperry Van Ness negotiated the sale of a 136,000-square-foot building at 1275 Ensell Road, Lake Zurich, to a partnership. Parkview Acquisitions was the seller. ... Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. represented telecommunications firm T-systems in its planned move this spring from Lisle to 22,000 square feet at 1901 Butterfield Road, Downers Grove. ... The law firm Franczek Radelet PC expanded its lease by 20 percent, to 36,000 square feet, at 300 S. Wacker, with Transwestern and Jones Lang LaSalle negotiating the deal.

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