LINCOLN PARK — A Cook County judge dismissed a lawsuit that has blocked the redevelopment of the former Children's Memorial Hospital site, likely clearing the way for the project to move forward.
The judge dismissed the lawsuit Tuesday night on technical grounds, ruling that the attorney representing the neighborhood groups failed to properly notify property owners surrounding the development site.
Two neighborhood groups, Mid-North Association and Park West Community Association, jointly filed a lawsuit along with a number of individual neighbors in June to stop the $350 million project.
"It's good news for Lincoln Park. We needed a new economic anchor to offset the loss of our largest employer, and this plan will create our new neighborhood crossroads," said 43rd Ward Ald. Michele Smith.
Smith said the decision to dismiss the lawsuit means the project has the green light.
"I have been told by the city that this is a conclusive determination of the suit," Smith said. "Therefore, [the developer] is completely free to go forward."
Norm Wolfe, a 26-year resident of the neighborhood representing the Park West Community Organization, called the order "silly."
"It seems to me that a decision like that should be made on the merits of the case and not on a hyper-technicality like that," Wolfe said.
The 6.2-acre site at the intersection of Fullerton and Lincoln avenues and Halsted Street, has been vacant since the hospital moved to Streeterville in June 2012.
The lawsuit filed by neighbors alleged the city's approval to rezone the site was "dramatically inconsistent with the height and scale of the surrounding neighborhood."
A verdict was never delivered on that claim.
Cook County Circuit Judge Kathleen Pantle ruled that the notice given to property owners within 250 feet of the development site was insufficient.
Pantle's order stated the plaintiffs were required to send notice of the lawsuit to 469 property owners, but in the case of 128 properties the plaintiffs did not notify all of the owners of the properties as reflected by the Recorder of Deeds Office and tax records.
In 124 of those cases, the plaintiffs did not give notice to one of the two spouses who were listed as joint owners of the property.
During a November hearing on the case, William Aguiar, the city's attorney, claimed the plaintiffs "have no idea what is going on with any of the marriages," and thus both should have been notified.
In other cases, the plaintiffs sent notice to beneficiaries of land trusts rather than to the trustees.
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