Residents oppose plans to develop hospital site

February 28, 2011 8:33:38 PM PST
New plans to redevelop the old site of the Lincoln Park Hospital on Chicago's North Side failed to win over much support Monday night.

Developers want to transform the site at Lincoln and Webster into condominiums, offices and a grocery store.

The building sits on prime property in the heart of Lincoln Park. But since the hospital closed in 2008 it has been empty.

Developers have proposed a combined office and residential development with a grocery store occupying part of a 20,000 square foot space, something a large vocal group of residents oppose.

"This is the wrong thing for this congested, 19th century neighborhood. Go away. Take it somewhere to the suburbs where it belongs," said Ruth McDowell, opponent.

"This does not belong in our historic, residential community. We should not support this zoning change," said Ruth McDowell, opponent

The developer presented an amended plan Monday night intended to calm some neighborhood objections. But many opponents say regardless a store would bring even more traffic to an already congested neighborhood. They say an overwhelming number of neighbors voted their opposition on a referendum during last week's election.

In contrast, several South and West Side communities last week celebrated an announcement that Sav-A-Lot stores plan to build in their so-called food deserts.

Supporters of the North Side development include the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce, which says the project would add jobs and tax base to the community.

"At this time of fiscal uncertainty, new business and economic development needs to be welcomed in every Chicago neighborhood, not discouraged," said Kim Schilf, Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce.

Debate over the proposed plan has gone on for more than a year. The alderman has yet to announce whether she supports the plan. The next step for developers is to present the plan to a special City Council zoning committee.