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Community to Vote on Plan to Redevelop Troubled Nursing Home

By Adeshina Emmanuel | January 9, 2013 1:36pm
 Somerset Place, 5009 N. Sheridan Rd.
Somerset Place, 5009 N. Sheridan Rd.
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Cook County Assessor's Office

UPTOWN — The 48th Ward is holding a meeting Wednesday to discuss a redevelopment proposal and zoning change for Somerset Place, a shuttered nursing home with a troubled past.

Sara Dinges, aide to Ald. Harry Osterman (48th), said residents have expressed hopes that the proposal to put rental units and commercial development at the property at 5009 N. Sheridan Rd. will result in a positive reuse for the facility.

Somerset is the former site of a troubled nursing home shuttered since 2010 after it lost its license to operate, was cut off from Medicaid funding and was slapped with fines after state health inspectors discovered various patient safety violations and reports of abuse.

The for-profit facility with 400 residents housed felons and mentally ill patients with elderly patients. In 2008, a 45-year-old Somerset resident was found beaten to death in a nearby hotel. Authorities cited a lack of proper supervision of the patient by Somerset staff, and said Somerset did not file a missing person's report or call police when the woman disappeared.

The property is now owned by Somerset Place Realty and would be renovated by Zidan Management Group.

"People really want to see the building brought back to life," Dinges said.

New plans are only conceptual at this point, but include at least 160 rental units with some commercial space on the ground floor, Dinges said.

Fitzgerald Associates Architects will do the redevelopment plan. Ten percent of the units would rent below the market rate, and the project would include parking spaces for residents, she said.

An attorney for Zidan, Bernie Citron, said that renovating the 29,000 square-foot building would cost more than $10 million. He said the project will replenish an eyesore, improve public safety and boost local business.

"Having a very large vacant building in a community is problematic," Citron said. "It sets a negative tone for the community and regardless of how well you watch over it there's always the chance that in colder weather people will break into the building and use it."

Residents will hear from the development team and discuss the proposal at a public meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Margate Park Fieldhouse, 4921 N. Marine Dr. Dinges said residents will vote on the plan with a show of hands "unless there's tons of burning questions left on the table." Even with community support, the project would still have to go through the city for a zoning change and necessary licenses.

Zidan seeks a zoning change that would allow a mixed-use development.