Haymarket Center buys Itasca hotel for rehab center that village has not yet approved
Haymarket Center has purchased an Itasca hotel that it hopes to convert into a drug and alcohol treatment center, even though there's no guarantee the village will approve the controversial proposal.
The Chicago-based nonprofit group announced Monday it bought the Holiday Inn along Irving Park Road earlier in the day. The purchase price wasn't disclosed.
"We have been working on securing the necessary zoning for the property in order to expand access to care for comprehensive substance use disorder treatment," Dr. Dan Lustig, Haymarket's president and CEO, said in a written statement. "We look forward to continuing the process to secure zoning approval as soon as it can be resumed."
Haymarket has been trying for months to get village approval to transform the hotel at 860 W. Irving Park Road into a 240-bed facility for patients with substance-use disorders, a proposal that has faced stiff opposition from village residents.
The village plan commission in October started hosting public hearings on Haymarket's proposal. But the process has been put on hold -- first because of a lawsuit Haymarket filed against the village that was dismissed, and now because of state-imposed restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
It's unclear when the plan commission will continue its review of Haymarket's plan. Ultimately, it will be up to the village board to decide if the project can move forward as a planned development.
Previously, Haymarket officials said the purchase of the building would be contingent upon the village approving the project. On Monday, they said the decision to buy the hotel now was made because the original contract was set to expire.
"As a new resident of the Itasca community, we are committed to being a good neighbor and to bringing new employment opportunities into the village, while providing care to a population in need of our services," Lustig said.
Itasca Mayor Jeff Pruyn on Monday said the village only learned recently that Haymarket was seeking to buy the hotel before receiving zoning approvals.
"Haymarket Center did not communicate, and the village does not know, their current intentions for the property," Pruyn said in a statement.
If its plan is approved, Haymarket would spend roughly $1.5 million to remodel the inside of the building. The proposed facility would provide a "full continuum of health care services" for adults 18 and older.
But there has been considerable opposition to Haymarket's proposal from residents who say Itasca is too small to support the proposed facility. In addition to costing the town tax revenue, opponents say the center would strain police and emergency services. The fire protection district has one ambulance.
On Monday, word of the sale was met with surprise and disappointment on the "No Itasca Haymarket" Facebook group.
"I am in disbelief Haymarket is seemingly gambling with donations and tax dollars that were given to treat substance abuse by purchasing a hotel prior to receiving zoning approval," said James Diestel, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Itasca group.