Asbestos, lead and other toxins removed from site of former Copley Hospital

Asbestos, lead and other toxins have been removed from buildings on the site of the former Copley Hospital in Aurora, a group of local investors working to renovate the campus says.

"After decades of decay and delay at the old Copley campus, I'm proud to announce the campus has been remediated, secured and now preserved for redevelopment," said Michael Poulakidas of Fox Valley Developers LLC.

Poulakidas also said the 9-acre property at Lincoln and Weston avenues has a new name: Avalon Heights.

He made the announcements this week during a media briefing with Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.

Nine buildings, constructed between 1888 and the 1970s, stood dormant on the campus for more than two decades, inviting vandals and trespassers.

Then Fox Valley Developers got involved last year.

The group envisions putting a mix of uses on the site, including age-restricted housing for senior citizens, residences for adults with disabilities and medical offices.

But first, it needed to clean up the property.

Poulakidas said workers removed all asbestos and lead from the buildings. Smaller amounts of contaminants found in the laundry and the cooling towers also have been taken off site and properly disposed of, he said.

The next step is for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to sign off on the cleanup.

"It wouldn't have been possible without everybody's support - the community as a whole," said Poulakidas, who thanked Irvin, the mayor's staff and the city council for their support.

By working together, Poulakidas said, the developers, the city, first responders, Fox Valley Park District and East Aurora School District 131 "have all set up to achieve what we believe is going to be a great redevelopment and repurposing of what we are now going to be calling Avalon Heights."

Avalon Heights will have several uses, including serving as the future headquarters of District 131.

The district is going to move into a three-story building on the Seminary Avenue side of the property. The former nurses building, constructed in 1957, will be renovated to house all the administrative offices.

Plans also call for the construction of a one-story meeting and training facility.

"So not only will they be able to house their administration staff there," Poulakidas said, "but then they'll have a meeting hall and a training facility right there on their campus."

Meanwhile, he said, a power plant and cancer center have been torn down, "which really cleans up that whole south side of the campus."

The oldest building on the site, constructed in 1888, is earmarked to become a pharmacy with a local drugstore and a small deli.

Poulakidas said plans to repurpose the building into an "old-school pharmacy" have been submitted to the state's historic preservation office.

Poulakidas said Fox Valley Developers is trying to find an independent pharmacy to operate in the space.

There's a huge contingent of independent pharmacists out there, he said, "and we're going to be targeting them to come join us in Aurora."

Other plans for the campus include repurposing three buildings for senior housing. A fourth building will have a small health care center and residences for adults with disabilities.

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