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Swedish Covenant Hospital Could Benefit From 40th Ward TIF District

By Patty Wetli | March 10, 2014 7:23am
 Swedish Covenant Hospital is looking to fund a women's health center and emergency room improvements with TIF dollars.
Swedish Covenant Hospital is looking to fund a women's health center and emergency room improvements with TIF dollars.
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Facebook/Swedish Covenant Hospital

LINCOLN SQUARE — A new Tax Increment Financing district — in which property tax revenue growth is placed into a special fund — has been proposed for the area surrounding Foster and California avenues.

The ordinance, brought before City Council last week, states that the district's "primary purpose" would be to "provide resources for health care improvements at Swedish Covenant Hospital."

The district would encompass approximately 24 acres, bounded by Carmen, Farragut, Francisco and Lincoln avenues.

"TIF funds will enable the groundbreaking of a comprehensive women’s health center and also be used for improvements that will increase the capacity of the emergency department, which has seen growing demand owing to several nearby hospital closures," according to hospital spokesman Nick Przybyciel.

More than 40 percent of the women served by Swedish Covenant are non-English speaking and 25 percent do not have health insurance. The hospital's Women's Health Initiative is designed to provide women with services and resources in a single location, according to the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation website.

"If approved, our TIF proposal will remove the barriers that many vulnerable populations living on Chicago’s North Side encounter when attempting to access health care because of gender, cultural or socioeconomic factors," Przybyciel said.

Swedish Covenant, 5145 N. California Ave., opened in 1886 and has since expanded from 12 beds to more than 300, with a staff of 2,200. It's administered by the Covenant Board of Benevolence on behalf of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

In 2012, the hospital christened the $50 million, eight-story Foster Medical Pavilion, which houses a surgery center, medical offices and a pharmacy at the corner of Foster and California avenues.

Financial information available for 2011 shows Swedish Covenant had $404 million in assets and $282 million in liabilities. Income for the year was reported as $245 million against $244 million in expenses.

Chicago has 163 TIF districts, which have collectively extracted more than $5 billion in property taxes since 1986, according to the Civic Lab.

State law requires that areas meet a number of "blighted" factors in order to be eligible for TIF designation, including excessive vacancies, dilapidation or deterioration, lack of physical maintenance and inadequate utilities.

Once approved by City Council, TIF districts remain in effect for as long as 23 years. In February,  Chicago's Community Development Commission recommended the city approve the proposed Foster/California TIF district.

The Commission will take up the matter again at its March meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday in City Council chambers to recommend Swedish Covenant as developer of the project site.

Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th), whose ward would include the new TIF district, could not be reached for comment.