EDGEWATER — A prolific developer bought the Edgewater Medical Center parking garage this week, but has yet to buy the center's tall hospital buildings that neighbors said have become an eyesore and safety hazard to the surrounding community.
A venture of MCZ Development, Sedgwick Acquisitions, LLC, closed on the property on Tuesday, according to state records. In June, MCZ Development bid $7.5 million to buy the former hospital in two separate closings.
MCZ agreed to pay $3.6 million for the parking garage and at a later date $3.9 million for the taller hospital buildings at 5700 N. Ashland Ave., according to the sales contract filed in federal bankruptcy court.
First, the hospital's former parking garage would be sold to MCZ and replaced with single-family homes. Next, the taller hospital buildings would be sold and demolished to make way for the 12-story development, according to the sales contract.
MCZ could back out of the deal, even after the sale of the garage, if certain requirements aren't met, including tax increment financing commitments from the city. The contract relies on one key contingency: $14.1 million in unpaid property taxes assessed by Cook County must be reduced to less than $1 million, according to a motion filed by the estate's attorneys. In a document filed Oct. 1 outlining the estate's plan to liquidate its assets, however, it stated that it expected to pay the county about $1.75 million.
Maurine Berens, vice president of the West Edgewater Area Neighbors neighborhood association, said an aide for Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th) told her group that MCZ expected next to begin preparations to demolish the parking garage structure.
But residents who have been asking for years for the tall buildings to be torn down are worried it could be years before they're razed because of the structure of the sales contract.
"We're unhappy with the fact that this is what's happening first when we asked that the vertical buildings come down first," Berens said. "I just don't know how long it's gong to be until the verticals come down."
The hospital has been vacant for a dozen years. Emails obtained by DNAinfo Chicago revealed the city and managers of the medical center's bankrupt estate had fought about who was at fault for delaying the redevelopment of the site.
Ben Woodard poured through 200 pages of e-mails to dig deeper:
Berens said the group was also worried about MCZ's reported plans to pump water out of the garage's basement prior to demolition. She said the basement of the garage and the medical center are connected, and water had been standing there for years.
"We have concerns about how they're gong to get rid of the water," she said.
It was unclear whether MCZ, known for high-rise developments, would construct the single-family homes on Edgewater Avenue.
MCZ owner Michael Lerner and his attorney didn't respond to a request for comment.
However, @properties owner Michael Golden was also listed alongside Lerner as a manager of Sedgwick Acquisitions, LLC, the new owner of the hospital's garage.
Golden did not respond to a request for comment about his involvement with the deal.
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