Hospital Expansion Clears Major Hurdle
P&D Commission unanimously recommends adding patient tower and garage after Advocate and Oak Lawn find "common ground."
Advocate Christ Medical Center's plan to add a 9-story patient tower and a new parking lot cleared a major hurdle Monday when the Planning and Development Commission unanimously recommended all of the variances it would need to complete the projects.
After hearing a new iteration of the hospital's plan, commissioners elected to grant the hospital's zoning, height and setback variances and elected to add other conditions that Advocate Christ must meet before getting building permits.
To look at the Site Plan, check out the PDF.
The proposal now goes to the mayor and board of trustees, who will take up the matter in September. Other conditions could be added or removed at that time.
The tower would be built on the site of an existing parking garage on the east side of the hospital along Kostner Avenue. A pedestrian walkway bridge will be built across Kostner to a 1,000-plus parking garage.
The plans came before the commission this spring but was met with heated opposition from residents of Crawford Gardens, who expressed concerns about traffic and flooding. The proposed addition will be built in an area currently zoned for residential use.
And after three months of meetings, telephone calls and e-mail, both sides said they reached an agreement.
Numerous changes to the project include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Adding a 24-foot landscaping buffer, along with an iron fence, to shield residents from seeing the new parking garage. Crawford Gardens residents vocally gave their assent to this plan.
- Removing advertising signs from around the oxygen tanks, painting the tanks the color of the Hope garage and adding landscaping to make this element "virtually disappear," according to John Houseal, of Houseal Lavigne, a Chicago-based firm that helped both the Center and the village reach an agreement on the project.
- Adding delineated crosswalks on Kostner Avenue to keep people from jaywalking. The crosswalks will be lined with landscaping.
- Creating new entrance and exit points out of the employee parking lot between Kostner and Keeler avenues and 93rd and 95th streets to keep people from using the neighborhood as a thoroughfare. Residents of Crawford Gardens particularly liked that change, loudly applauding their approval.
- Installing bollard lighting to better delineate the location of crosswalks and areas on campus.
- Creating wayfinding signage on the campus.
- Adding a median and bump-out on Kostner to slow down traffic out of the employee parking lot.
Recommendations from staff included:
- Checking the condition of the Stony Creek culverts to assess if they may be adding to residents' flooding woes. The creek was diverted when the campus was built around 40 years ago, commission chairman Steve Radice said.
- Burying electric lines on the west side of Kostner between 93rd and 95th, for aesthetic reasons. Nine to 10 can be buried without issue. As 95th is a state route, an easement must be granted by the state department of transportation for two others to be buried.
- Replacing an 8-inch water main along 93rd and Kostner with a 12-inch one.
Radice proposed other recommendations:
- Checking the condition of all the sewers on the hospital campus. It seemed that this proposal was withdrawn until District 4 Trustee Thomas Duhig suggested that Advocate should have a "colonoscopy" so that the infrastructure on the campus get have a "clean bill of health," he said. The idea was put back on the list.
The cost of any repairs found by "televising" any of the culverts and sewers would be borne by the medical center.
As some of the effects of all the phases of the project will not be known for some time, commisioners gave their assent to having traffic studies done on the area between 91st and 99th streets on the north and south and Pulaski and Cicero avenues on the east and west to see if more traffic calming devices are needed. The cost of the studies would be borne by Advocate.
Radice said Advocate also would fight for the installation of a traffic light on Kilbourn Avenue and 95th. IDOT denied the initial request because it only was 600 feet from Kostner, which already has one.
Quarterly updates also must be provided to the village and residents about the progress of construction and related issues.
These two new projects would be part of the medical center’s six-phase expansion over the next decade, the “largest construction project” in Oak Lawn’s history and is part of a $600 million investment in the community. The proposed patient tower is in addition to the medical center's new ambulatory pavilion that is currently under contruction.
Advocate Christ must get the village’s approval before hospital officials can appear before the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board for state approvals before it can break ground this fall.