Parking lot sale worries Elgin residents
Some Elgin residents worry the potential sale of an old Sherman Hospital parking area might spell bad news for their neighborhood.
The NorthEast Neighborhood Association is holding a informational public meeting Thursday about plans for the two parking lots straddling Center Street south of Slade Avenue, across from the hospital's previous location at 901 Center St. The 5.3-acre area for sale belongs to Advocate Sherman Hospital, whose new location is on Randall Road.
Some association members want the space to be turned into a park while others are OK with development such as single family homes or senior housing, association President Patricia Harkin said.
"I would much prefer green space to development but I could live with development it if were thoughtful," she said. "I would hate to see a gigantic apartment complex, but I am just as committed to development as the mayor and the (city) council are."
Neighborhood association members have met with Elgin Mayor David Kaptain and hospital officials to express their concerns, Harkin said.
"We are trying very, very hard, and so is Sherman, to maintain a cordial relationship and to arrive at a conclusion that is good for the neighborhood," she said.
The underutilized parking area was identified as a sale opportunity when Sherman conducted an audit of its properties, said Tonya Lucchetti-Hudson, the hospital's director of public affairs and marketing.
The old hospital was demolished in 2012, and the campus is now home to Greater Elgin Family Care Center, physician offices, a pharmacy and some hospital administrative offices. Those buildings can be served by an adjacent parking lot, Lucchetti-Hudson said.
The broker, who is not listing a sale price, has received some inquiries from potential buyers, she said. "Ideally, we are looking for a buyer who will meet the best and highest use for the property to benefit both Sherman and the community."
Kaptain said he met in January with a potential developer who envisioned an "upscale" housing development with some commercial space, likely for medical uses. "It would be very nice homes that would meet the character of the existing neighborhood," he said.
Any developer might also be amenable to building a park on the site, he said.
Under an old agreement between the city and Sherman, a corner of the land for sale was supposed to be either turned into a park or deeded back to the city, said Kerry Kelly, the neighborhood association's environmental chairman. The agreement dates back to when the hospital expanded its campus years ago, she said.
"It's pretty small, so I think the city's approach is, 'We don't want a park that's basically a house-size lot,' " she said, adding the city's legal department is looking into the issue. "But, still, it has some value to it."
The city currently is not considering acquiring any of the land for sale, Kaptain said.
The neighborhood -- mostly single-family homes from workers' cottages to Victorian dwellings -- needs more parkland and playground areas, Kelly said. "If we do have to go the development route, I hope that it's something that fits in our neighborhood," she said.
Residents are invited to share their input at 7 p.m. Thursday at Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave. in Elgin.