LITTLE ITALY — After shooting down plans for a Walgreens on Taylor Street, a condo association now says its pool privileges have been hijacked by a neighboring apartment complex that had been pushing for the drugstore development.
Developer Jim Hansen said he went to the owners of the Medical District Apartments more than a year ago with the idea of buying the building's two-story parking garage at Ashland Avenue and Taylor Street and replacing it with a Walgreens.
But at that time, residents from the neighboring Campus Green Townhomes rejected the plan. Campus Green Townhomes is part of the planned development where the apartments and garage are located and therefore have a say in how the property is used.
Now the Medical District Apartments have cut off the Campus Green residents' access to the pool the two associations share — a move that some Campus Green residents say is retaliation for the rejected Walgreens plan.
Rachelle Cirrintano, a resident at Campus Green who has a 9-year-old son, Rocco, was outraged.
"The gall of these corporate people to deny the kids the access [to the pool] and demand the Walgreens project," she said.
Chloe Riley explains how a proposed Walgreens is setting off a heated debate:
A representative from Medical District Apartments — which has no affiliation with the Illinois Medical District, a public body — did not respond to requests for comment.
A spokesman for Walgreens also declined to comment.
An email sent last month from Campus Green supervisor Tracey Johnson to residents states said Campus Green residents will no longer be able to use the pool unless the association pays $48,000 in payments dating back to 2004. Campus Green had been allowed to use the pool in exchange for an annual fee of $4,000, but the fee was never assessed or collected, the email said.
Johnson said in the email that Medical District Apartments was now requesting the payments, but said that Campus Green residents could avoid the back payments if they agreed to give the go-ahead to the Walgreens plan.
"These actions seem predicated on the fact that [Campus Green] is not at this [time] willing to consent to the Walgreen’s proposal," Johnson wrote.
Johnson couldn't be reached for comment.
While Cirrintano said she isn't personally against the Walgreens, she said her association rejected the proposal because some residents didn't feel it was a good fit for the area and feared increased traffic and potential crime.
Cirrintano is upset about the potential loss of access to the swimming pool, which hasn't opened for the year yet.
"We love the property, but I almost feel like moving," said Cirrintano, a Campus Green resident for eight years. "We moved here from Florida so our big thing was having a pool accessible for the kids. The pool is a huge amenity for summertime."
For Hansen, the Walgreens offer still stands if the Campus Green condo association is willing to reconsider.
He pointed out that the drugstore, if built, would be smaller and farther away from Campus Green than the garage is now and would fit in nicely with the character of the neighborhood. He had planned a red masonry building with stone accents in addition to a parking lot and drive-thru.
"Hope springs eternal, so if the Campus Green residents are willing to change their view of the project, I could certainly try to invigorate it and get it going again. It’s really a shame," Hansen said.