Winfield board overrides veto of downtown redevelopment

Five Winfield trustees were able to successfully override Village President Erik Spande's veto of a long-aborning Town Center redevelopment project with Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital.

And Spande was more than pleased with that result.

"I'm effectively withdrawing my veto," Spande said before the vote during Thursday night's village board meeting, though Village Attorney Kathie Elliott clarified that it was not possible in the municipal code.

At least four trustees, or two-thirds of the board, were needed to override Spande's Sept. 17 veto. Marianne Bruss, a newly appointed trustee filling a vacancy left by James McCurdy, chose to abstain.

Spande's change of heart came after Northwestern Medicine released new architectural renderings for a proposed three-story medical and retail structure that could be built on a site bordered by Winfield Road, High Lake Road, Church Street and Jewell Road.

Spande described it as "a kind of modern, polished version of Prairie Style" - an early 20th-century Chicago architectural movement popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was much more to Spande's liking compared to previous renderings he deemed too "generic" and "corporate."

"The main thing I was concerned about was having an eyesore in Town Center that would be there for generations," said Spande, also citing objections to Northwestern Medicine's "last-minute contract modifications."

"If I would have seen this back on Sept. 17," he said, "I would not have issued my veto."

The turnaround from Spande, who recently announced he won't seek reelection in 2021, prompted a cautious reaction from some trustees before the vote.

"No one at this table is an architect, so I would rather see the people who have expertise and who are professionals determine which way we're going to go on the style," Trustee Dennis Hogan said. He added that "we need to go forward now" on the redevelopment.

As a result of the board's actions, a previously approved development agreement and associated ordinances between CDH and Winfield can go forward.

The much-debated medical and retail building is part of the second phase of a larger project. Trustees pointed out the new building rendering wasn't finalized and that changes could be made to the color scheme, the choice of materials or ways to make the ground floor retail spaces more inviting.

Meanwhile, construction will likely start this year on a mixed-use, 833-space parking structure west of the hospital along Winfield Road. It's designed to have more than 23,000 square feet on the ground floor for a day care facility plus retail or dining. Also planned is a 180-space surface parking lot just east of Church that will be used by CDH staff members during construction.

Overturning Spande's veto also allowed trustees to vote on an ordinance authorizing a public way license agreement for a pedestrian bridge to be built over Winfield Road. The bridge will connect the parking structure to the hospital campus.

The bridge was part of the initial development agreement, but a vote was not taken on Sept. 3 because renderings were not ready at the time.

Newly appointed trustees Bruss and Robert Greer both expressed reservations that the bridge would not be fully enclosed. But other trustees clarified that to do so would require extra expenses for the bridge to be fully climate-controlled.

All the trustees voted in favor of the bridge.

Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital received approval of a public way license agreement to construct a pedestrian bridge over Winfield Road to connect the hospital campus to a planned parking structure on the west side of the street. Courtesy of Northwestern Medicine
Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital's plans to build a parking deck west of the hospital along Winfield Road is back on track. Trustees on Thursday overrode a veto from Village President Erik Spande that briefly put a halt to the Town Center redevelopment project. Courtesy of Northwestern Medicine
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