Winfield, Central DuPage Hospital share vision for massive Town Center redevelopment
For nearly a century, John's Tavern anchored a block of downtown Winfield as a landmark synonymous with the village's historic character and rural charm.
Today, that block sits dormant, with the building at Winfield and Jewell roads on the verge of demolition almost a year after the restaurant closed. But another Winfield institution -- Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital -- has unveiled plans for a redevelopment of unprecedented scale in the village of 9,000. To the south of the hospital campus, the project would turn a fading section of Winfield's Town Center into a medical and commercial district. To the west of the 390-bed hospital, a parking deck with about 1,000 spaces would alleviate a major parking problem at Central DuPage. Village hall also would be torn down and moved to free space for more development near the Metra station.
The hospital, one of the region's largest, will have to clear a number of funding and zoning hurdles before shovels can hit the ground. But CDH and village leaders are marking a milestone in negotiations as they prepare to host a series of town halls on the proposal starting next month.
"It's a watershed moment in this process where the village and the hospital have found common ground on what development of areas around the hospital could or should look like over time," CDH President Brian Lemon said.
In a town where development issues often dominate elections, public meetings likely will draw preservationists and others who have painted the hospital as a behemoth that scoops up prime real estate. Such was the case nearly 20 years ago when the hospital bought Frank's Family Foods -- Winfield's only grocery store -- to build a parking lot it now wants to replace with a parking deck on the west side of Winfield Road.
"I have a lot of the same concerns," Village President Erik Spande said. "But just try to imagine that we can keep what's the best of Winfield and improve the rest."
Here's a look at some of the issues around the Town Center redevelopment.
The village and the hospital have built a largely amicable working relationship in recent years. The two sides resolved a dispute in 2015 when the tax-exempt hospital agreed to pay a $900,000 annual grant to compensate the municipality for the police, road maintenance and other services.
In Town Center talks, the hospital agreed to have all off-campus construction and the parking deck subject to property taxes, resolving one of the most significant sticking points. That deal would represent a windfall for Winfield in its quest to expand its tax base.
"That was a huge point," Spande said. "We've had some earnest discussions with them on that in the past, and one of the touch points with Winfield residents is CDH gobbling up our Town Center. Well, if it stays on the tax roll, that's not the case. They're becoming part of our Town Center."
The village and CDH began talks about Town Center plans a year ago when the owner of John's Tavern sold the property to Northwestern Medicine. By the end of the year, the restaurant and a vacant service station on the same block are expected to be demolished.
"The bottom line is CDH owns John's Buffet. It's going to come down. That's the reality, so let's take that reality and make it ours," Spande said. "CDH is going to build something there. Let's be part of that conversation."
CDH would need funding approval from Northwestern Medicine. In a newsletter, Lemon wrote that hospital leaders are in the "early stages" of evaluating financial commitments.
He said it would be premature to estimate the cost of the investment. Spande said it's in the realm of about $60 million.
"For this to go forward, we're going to be making significant commitments of capital," Lemon said. "We're not going to do anything that is not consistent with our mission as a hospital and health care provider, and we're not going to do anything that doesn't make economic sense."
Plans for the project's first phase call for construction of a parking garage and a pedestrian walkway over Winfield Road linking the structure to the main campus. In the parking structure, about 25,000 square feet of the ground floor facing south would be set aside as commercial space. A day-care center and a restaurant are potential tenants.
To get a sense of the parking constraints on the main campus, officials note CDH began offering to shuttle employees from off-site parking about six months ago.
"We have a clear need to expand our parking capacity, so I think that makes economic sense for us," Lemon said. "We do have needs for additional clinic space. We've got to work through those. Hopefully, we would be in a position to have clarity about that by around midsummer."
"Phase 1B" would include construction of a three-story, 60,000-square-foot medical office building with 20,000 square feet of first-floor commercial space on the east end of the John's Tavern block. As many as two new stand-alone buildings for retailers or restaurants would not be built until each is 50 percent leased.
"Phase 1C" shows two more retail buildings and a plaza on the current site of the 10,000-square-foot village hall that also houses a police station. The village would build a new municipal headquarters on the edge of Town Center where two white houses now stand along Jewell Road. Spande said officials are keeping a roughly $10 million "placeholder" estimate for a 20,000-square-foot village hall. Tax increment financing dollars generated by the Town Center redevelopment and meant to be set aside rather than going to local governments could fund construction.
Future phases might involve two more mixed-use buildings, an expansion of a CDH parking structure along High Lake Road and a commuter parking structure to the east of the Metra station.
Village hall will host the first town hall to gather input on the project Dec. 4. CDH's bed pavilion will host the second on Jan. 22.
"Our goal is to continue to develop our programs and grow," Lemon said. "We want to make sure we do that in such a way that it recognizes the needs of the village and the importance to us that the village be in an economically stable, viable place. Whatever we do, we want to do it in partnership with the village."
If you goWhat: Winfield Town Hall meetings on Town Center redevelopment
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, and 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22
Where: First meeting is at village hall, 27W465 Jewell Road; Second meeting is at the Bed Pavilion, Rooms 1, 2 and 3 at Central DuPage Hospital, 25 N. Winfield Road