WICKER PARK — A stretch of land along the Bloomingdale Trail in Wicker Park that has been vacant since the 1990s could be seeing new life with the addition of a medical center run by Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
A spokeswoman for Northwestern Memorial HealthCare said that the group is, "Targeting the site and affirming strong interest" in the land at 1770-98 N. Milwaukee Ave., near the intersection of Milwaukee and Leavitt.
"The Wicker Park care site, when open, will be among our newest Northwestern Medicine locations in Chicago neighborhoods. We're very proud to continuously expand health services throughout Chicago communities," the spokeswoman said.
Alisa Hauser says the development would be on a lot with a strange layout, but great location:
The spokeswoman was unable to confirm if the new site would offer immediate or emergency care but said, there would be primary care, "certain diagnostics," along with some specialty health services available.
Earlier this month, several mature trees were cut down and cleared from the land, which abuts the Bloomingdale Trail on the northern end and intersects with Leavitt Street on the southern end.
Scheduled to open next summer, the 2.7-mile elevated Bloomingdale Trail will span several neighborhoods, from the baby stroller-filled streets of Bucktown to Ridgeway Avenue in Humboldt Park, and will serve as the centerpiece of a larger system also known as "The 606."
The Northwestern Medicine Wicker Park expansion would follow the group's opening of an Immediate Care location in River North as well as a care site slated to open this summer in South Loop's Roosevelt Collection, a mall at 150 W. Roosevelt Road.
Earlier this month, the land was assigned to a Smithfield-backed venture called Ere Funding LLC, according to county records.
Kevin Henning, a vice president for Smithfield Properties, declined to comment on the project or elaborate on if the future development would include residential units.
Paul Sajovec, a spokesman for Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), said that Henning met with Waguespack earlier this month to tell the alderman about Smithfield Properties' plans for the land.
Sajovec said Smithfield Properties has "a preliminary agreement" with Northwestern Medicine.
"They have the zoning they need to build what they want there and came in as a courtesy. It is not an absolute imperative that they put residential units there," Sajovec said.
Landon Harper, a Realtor who is selling a group of 24 homes dubbed "The Row" on the western side of the lot, which is bisected by CTA "L" tracks, said the new development on the opposite end of the land is "a testament to demand for a bevy of options."
"Overall, it's exciting to see once vacant spaces get filled in," Harper said.
Mark Youngquist, a Wicker Park resident of 13 years who lives a few blocks away from the vacant land and was out jogging on a recent Sunday morning, said that he would welcome new development of any kind on the land.
"Given the location between train tracks and the fact it has been vacant for a long time, it doesn't bother me. I'd rather see something get built here," Youngquist said.
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