Medical clinic plans are taking shape in Oak Lawn

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

The timeframe for construction of a new Advocate Medical Group outpatient clinic in downtown Oak Lawn, and how it will affect the surrounding neighborhood, were discussed by the Patriot Station Traffic Advisory Panel at a meeting last week.

Village officials as well as AMG representatives and others working on the project joined the panel made up of neighborhood residents at the Oct. 11 meeting at Village Hall. About a dozen residents also were there.

Advocate Medical Group plans to build a two-story, 58,400 square-foot facility with doctors’ offices, a lab, pharmacy and outpatient clinic affiliated with nearby Advocate Christ Medical Center on the shuttered Beatty Lumber property at 9537 S. 52nd Ave. and the adjacent Permacor Inc. site at 9540 S. Tulley Ave.

“We’re going to stop calling it the Beatty Lumber site. It is going to be the AMG site from now on,” said Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury at the meeting.

Lance Theis, chief architect with HDR Inc., which is working with AMG on the project, said he expects the site to be fenced off soon, “sometime around December,” and no-parking signs will go up around it. He said concrete barriers will also be put around the site for safety reasons, allowing only trucks in and out while construction is underway.

“Before the end of this year, we would like to get the Permacor building torn down,” Theis said.

He and Peter Messina, project manager of Advocate Health Care, said traffic that was on adjacent Narrow Street, which the village turned over to AMG, will be moved to 96th Street while construction is underway, and Tulley Avenue will be blocked off.

“The rest of this year will be remediation, asbestos abatement, and getting ready for the construction to start in the spring. “Our goal is to get the west parking lot done by the summer of 2018,” said Theis. “We want the building to be occupied by the first quarter of 2019.”

“It will ultimately be better when it is all done. It will just take a little patience,” said Shelly De Rousse, chairman of the panel and a nearby resident.

Officials said there will be approximately 156 parking spaces between the two lots, the one on the property and the parking lot on the west side of 52nd Avenue.

Currently, there is diagonal parking available to permit-holders on 96th Street, and that will be turned into parallel parking spots. Several residents, as well as panel member Jennifer Claussen, expressed concern that clinic patients will begin using those spots on 96th Street, which are now used by neighborhood residents.

The original plans called for those parking spots on 96th Street to be turned over to the clinic, but AMG officials said there should be plenty of space for clinic patients and staff in the two lots.

Residents were also assured that trees and other landscaping will be planted along 96th Street as a buffer between the medical building and the houses across the street.

Also discussed at the meeting was the proposed redevelopment plan for the site now occupied by the vacant Karas real estate building on the southwest corner of 95th Street and 50th Avenue. A developer had proposed building two restaurants on the site, a Dunkin’ Donuts and an upscale Mexican restaurant, as well as a total of eight condos on the second and third floors. The existing building is now owned by the village, and its sale for $900,000 has been included in the 2018 budget.

But because of the considerable opposition from neighborhood residents to the residential component of the plan, Bury said the developer has been asked to “go back to the drawing board” to see if the project would be feasible without the condos.

At recent village board meetings as well as meetings of the advisory panel, residents questioned how the condos will fit in, because no parking will be provided for residents. And most village trustees weren’t very supportive of it either. Village Manager Larry Deetjen said that another nearby parking lot will be available, as well as space in the underused Metra parking lot. But the project is up in the air now.

Deetjen said a reworked development plan will have to go back to the Planning Commission, and then to the Village Board. Bury said when or if it will be brought back for a vote is not known.