$20 million in place for rehab of vacant Aurora hospital

The extension of a redevelopment zone - via the passing of a state Senate bill - may prove critical to whether the former St. Charles Hospital in Aurora can be converted into senior residences.

A plan to renovate the former hospital has received millions of dollars in state tax credits and private investments that could allow the project to become a reality - provided the River Edge Redevelopment Zone program is extended past 2016.

The complicated layers of financing and tax credits - totaling $20 million - were assembled in a collaborative effort of Seize the Future Development Foundation, the Northern Lights Development Corporation, Verigreen Development and Mayor Tom Weisner's office.

The project would transform the long-vacant St. Charles Hospital and former Fox River Pavilion Nursing Home at 400 E. New York St. into a senior independent living community.

But the $20 million project by Verigreen Development is in jeopardy without a legislative fix in Springfield.

Funds provided by the State Historic Tax Credit through the River Edge Redevelopment Zone program would contribute roughly $4 million to this $20 million project that would drive economic growth and beautify the eastern gateway to downtown Aurora.

However, the River Edge Redevelopment Zone is set to expire at the end of 2016, likely before renovations could be complete and residents could move in.

If the River Edge Redevelopment Zone program is not extended, not only would $4 million be lost for the St. Joseph Charles Hospital building overhaul, the remaining $16 million in private investments would also likely be lost, and this historic property would continue to stand vacant, at risk of a fate similar to the blighted former Copley Hospital on Lincoln Avenue a mile south.

"It's a fantastic project," said Verigreen Director of Developments David Block. "Everybody wants it to happen, to have a building we'll all be very proud of. The extension of the (RERZ) program would be enormously helpful in making this project come to fruition."

To save this and other worthy redevelopment projects around the state, the city of Aurora is encouraging local lawmakers to pass of Senate Bill 1642 before the General Assembly adjourns. This bill would extend the life of the River Edge Redevelopment Zone program beyond 2016, giving developers across the state the time to build projects that generate business and revenue that would not otherwise exist in Illinois.

Learn more about Senate Bill 1642 here.

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