LINCOLN PARK — It's been five years in the making, but the first phase of Webster Square, the redevelopment of the former Lincoln Park Hospital, is nearly ready for its first tenants.
The 75-unit apartment building at 558 W. Webster Ave. has begun leasing luxury units in the seven-story building, with tenants set to move in June 1.
Getting to this point involved a long community and political process that placed the hospital's redevelopment at the center of the 43rd Ward aldermanic election in 2011.
It took more than two years to get the property zoned for use.
"We pretty much ran the gamut and had every experience you could have as a developer," said David Goldman, a partner at Sandz Development. "It's taken a long time, but we are really happy with the results of where things are going."
Wednesday, workers buzzed through all seven floors of the apartment building completing the finishing touches on the first phase.
The lobby was a work in progress, as was the green roof and workout center on the top floor, but those will be ready in time for the first residents, according to Goldman.
So far @properties, which is the leasing agent on the property, has received applications for close to 30 percent of the units, Goldman said.
The apartments cover floors that were once occupied by medical offices, operating rooms and hospice care.
Two-thirds of the apartments are one-bedroom units and studios, while the other third are two-bedroom homes.
Apartments range from $1,914 for a one-bedroom to $4,126 per month for the priciest two-bedroom, two-bath unit.
The bottom level of the apartment building will be commercial and @properties plans on moving offices into a portion of the space this summer.
Eventually the development will include an additional 110 condominiums in an adjacent 12-story building and eight lots of single family homes along Grant Street.
The advantage for Sandz throughout the development process was that the buildings already existed, especially their height of seven and 12-stories respectively.
"Had they not been there, it would have been an even bigger challenge to do a development of this scale on this site," Goldman said.
The 420-bed Lincoln Park Hospital was closed by its owner Merit Health Systems of Louisville in October 2008 after what was described as "serious violations in health and safety codes." The hospital's roots stretched back to the late 1800s when it was established as German Hospital of Chicago, later renamed Grant Hospital.
When Sandz Development Co. took over the former six-building hospital complex, it had been abandoned for close to a year.
"I tell people it was kind of like a science fiction movie," Goldman said. "When I first walked in there were desks with coffee cups and books open and papers all over the place."
The three-acre development site is a little less than half the size of the Children's Memorial Hospital redevelopment site and about two blocks away.
Both developments are expected to boost what has been described by local businesses as a dead zone on Lincoln Avenue after the closure of both hospitals.
Mrs. Green's Natural Market, which opened across the street from the Webster Square apartments in the fall, is also part of the redevelopment project.
Construction on the condominium building at Webster Square was expected to start in the fall and should be complete by late 2016, according to the developers.
While there are a number of developments in the works in the neighborhood including the Children's Memorial Hospital project and the proposed Lincoln Centre development, those are years away from tenants moving in.
"We like right now where we are in the marketplace," Goldman said. "Certainly with the economy continuing to build steam."
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