Oak Lawn officials review traffic concerns for medical facility project

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

The Oak Lawn Village Board’s June 13 approval of an agreement with Advocate Health & Hospital Corp. to move forward with plans to build a medical facility was the main topic of discussion when a neighborhood traffic advisory panel met the following day.

The Patriot Station Traffic Advisory Panel made up of neighborhood residents was formed last year to address safety concerns after plans were unveiled last year for the two-story, 58,400-square-foot facility to be built on the former Beatty Lumber property at 9537 S. 52nd Ave.

Mayor Sandra Bury and Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) are non-voting members of the panel chaired by resident Shelly DeRousse. Village Manager Larry Deetjen and Engineer Jack Gallagher joined them at the meeting in Village Hall.

About 20 neighborhood residents were on hand to hear the news about the agreement to move ahead with plans for the medical clinic, which will be affiliated with nearby Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Deetjen explained that Advocate Development Group, which is in charge of the $400,000 project, is purchasing the vacant Beatty Lumber property, as well as the adjacent Permacor site at 9540 S. Tulley Ave. He said Narrow Street, which runs beside the property, will also be purchased from the village for its appraised value, and incorporated into the medical center campus. AMG also will buy a 27,000-square-foot spur of land owned by Norfolk Southern Railroad to complete the property.

The village manager said construction can now move ahead as soon as Metra and Federal Transportation Administration officials given written approval for a plan to turn over more than 100 parking spaces on the top floor of Patriot Station for use by the medical center. He said the spots will be reserved at the same rate used by Metra, currently $2 per day, Monday through Saturday. He said other ground-level parking spots along 96th Street will also come with the $2 fee.

“The FTA needs to sign off on the parking agreement because it provided a grant to build it,” Deetjen explained. “Advocate Development Group also has to take down power lines on the site before construction can begin. Nothing is a done deal until shovels are in the ground, but it looks like the medical center could be opening in the first quarter, or summer of 2019.”

Deetjen said that as the law stands now, the building housing medical offices will pay property taxes, just like any privately-owned clinic would, even though it is affiliated with Advocate Christ Medical Center, a non-profit.

However, he said a case involving another clinic that objected to paying taxes is currently before the Illinois Supreme Court. He said if that goes the other way, Deetjen said the clinic has agreed to pay a $100,000 lump sum to the village in lieu of taxes.

During the meeting, Gallagher passed around a draft architectural drawing showing how as part of the redevelopment, traffic leaving the Metra station will be rerouted along Museum Drive south of 95th Street to 50th Court, where a traffic light will be installed. Residents with children living in the area, particularly on 50th Court, had complained of commuters driving south through the neighborhood streets. But those at the meeting were happy to hear that a landscaped cul-de-sac is going to be installed on 50th Court, preventing traffic from going south. Vehicles will now only be able to turn north from Museum Drive, and head east or west on 95th Street.

While traffic related to the Metra station are being solved, several residents expressed concerns when they were told at the meeting of plans being considered for the village-owned “Karas building,” located at 9500 S. 50th Court. Deetjen said that the owner of several Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in the village has expressed interest in purchasing the former Karas real estate office and turning it into a 24-hour Dunkin’ Donuts with a drive-through window.

“Great. Now I am going to be kept awake listening to people giving coffee orders at 2 a.m.,” said one woman who lives on 50th Court. Deetjen said there are also tentative plans for a sit-down restaurant to be built next-door.

“I can’t say yet what type of cuisine it will serve, but it won’t be Italian to compete with Palermo’s (just east of it). I think people will be pleasantly surprised,” said the village manager.

He said that the traffic panel will be kept appraised of any specific plans when they are formulated.

“Residents obviously have a lot of concerns about these developments, and it will take time to address them all. But I think it will work out,” said Streit.