Renovation work begins at former hospital site in Aurora

A long-dormant hospital site in Aurora is undergoing a $110 million renovation to transform it into a "thriving campus" with a mix of uses, including housing for senior citizens, residences for adults with disabilities and medical offices.

Fox Valley Developers LLC this week announced the next phase in its plan for the former Copley Hospital campus at Lincoln and Weston avenues after the Aurora City Council approved a redevelopment agreement with the group.

On Thursday, a spokesman for Fox Valley Developers said construction already is underway in parts of the site. He said the entire project is expected to be completed by 2022.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said in a statement that progress had been delayed for nearly a quarter of a century. He said the "puzzle was outmatched by the creativity, tenacity and determination of the city and developers."

"Where others fell short or didn't even try, through partnership we are going to reinvest in the campus and renew the Bardwell neighborhood," Irvin said. "Once again, this historic neighborhood will be anchored by a thriving campus offering health care, residential, education and recreational amenities."

Eight buildings, constructed between 1888 and the 1970s, stood dormant on the campus since 1995, inviting vandals and trespassers.

Then Fox Valley Developers got involved last year.

The group of local investors started by remediating, securing and preserving the campus for redevelopment. Officials said the $18.5 million phase of the project recently was completed.

"We are humbled and honored to have the opportunity to deliver this historic transformation for the city of Aurora and residents of the neighborhood and thank the city for partnering with us to make this a reality," Russell Woerman, a member of Fox Valley Developers, said in a statement. "Solving this problem will lift up the entire community, create hundreds of jobs and provide tens of million in new income to benefit Aurora families for decades to come."

The group envisions putting a mix of uses on the site, including up to 102 units of senior living, a small health care center, and an independent apartment community for adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities.

The campus also is going to have the future headquarters of East Aurora School District 131, which will 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.

In addition, Fox Valley Developers acquired additional land next to the campus for the purpose of donating it back to the community for creation of a new park, officials said. The Fox Valley Park District has received a grant from the state to help build the neighborhood park.

Fox Valley Developers says the renovations on the campus will be completed to the standards of a historical renovation.

"As business leaders invested in Aurora already, we have always seen the untapped value and potential of this campus and neighborhood," said Jason Konrad of Fox Valley Developers. "We are ready to deliver on this promise, unlock the true potential of the Bardwell neighborhood and create a renewed sense of pride, purpose and prosperity at this iconic and historical campus."

Including the remediation effort and the second phase of construction, a total of $128.5 million will be invested in the campus, officials said.

As part of the redevelopment agreement, the city is offering $9 million of incentives to reimburse Fox Valley Developers for its costs. But occupancy permits must be issued for portions of the campus before any of the incentives are provided by the city.

The project is expected to create roughly 740 direct and indirect jobs over the next three years of construction, officials said.

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