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Outgoing ald. will push forward on Lincoln Park hospital plan

Lincoln Park’s outgoing alderman said Wednesday that she will seek City Council approval of a former hospital site’s redevelopment before her term expires, despite election results that awarded her office to an opponent of the project.

Ald. Vi Daley (43rd) said she sees no reason to delay Council consideration of the project until Michele Smith is sworn in as her successor in May. Daley said she expects the redevelopment of the old Lincoln Park Hospital at Lincoln and Webster will win council approval April 13.

“I’ve been working on this for a year and a half, and there are a lot of people in the ward that want it,” Daley said.

She added that she did not interpret Tuesday’s election results as a referendum against the project.

Smith, an attorney, has said the plan needs to be redesigned to win neighborhood acceptance. She received 51 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s race against Tim Egan, an executive with Norwegian American Hospital.

By the end of the campaign, Egan had gotten open support from Sandz Development Co., the firm behind the Lincoln Park Hospital site. The plan would mostly reuse vacant structures and bring in 152 dwellings, a medical office building and a grocery at the southeast corner of Lincoln and Webster.

The grocery, a planned 20,000-square-foot Fresh Market, has been the flash point. Residents of an upscale landmark district that abuts the site have argued it would mar their enclave by drawing in pedestrians and delivery trucks.

Attorney Martin Oberman, representing the nearby homeowners, said that if the city rezones the property to allow the development, he will challenge the decision in court. “We are not going away, and I don’t think this development is going to get built,” said Oberman, a former 43rd Ward alderman.

Smith said she “will continue to work really hard to try to get a development people will support.” She said she hasn’t had time to discuss the issue with Daley since the election.

In six precincts closest to the development, election returns show Smith ran up a 360-vote margin over Egan. Ward-wide, she won the election by just 227 votes.

Sandz executives Richard Zisook and David Goldman were unavailable for comment. “I’m sure we’ll all be talking,” Smith said of the developers.

One option Smith would have is asking the Council to rezone the three acres again to bar the development. City Council practice usually gives aldermen great control over zoning in their wards.

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