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Former Borders Building Could Get Medical Tenant, Ald. O'Shea Says

 Halloween City opened in September in the former Borders bookstore on 95th Street in Beverly. A
Halloween City opened in September in the former Borders bookstore on 95th Street in Beverly. A "medical user" has recently shown interest in the building, Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) said last week.
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DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig

BEVERLY — A "medical user" has shown interest in the former Borders bookstore in Beverly, according to Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th).

The alderman provided few details late last week other than to confirm the general nature of the business that could take over the long-vacant building at 2210 W. 95th St. in Beverly.

"We do have an interested user in the Borders building. It is medical," O'Shea told a crowd of some 40 people gathered at a town hall meeting at the Chicago Police Department's Morgan Park station.

O'Shea stopped short of providing additional details beyond what he revealed Thursday night.

"While the developer is negotiating with a user, there is no deal signed. I will not have a comment until a deal is signed," O'Shea responded to an email asking for more information.

Howard Ludwig says filling the building would be big for Beverly:

The two-story bookstore has been vacant for nearly 4½ years — though it briefly served as a seasonal Halloween store last year.

The 25,000-square-foot building sits prominently along 95th Street. Once an anchor for the shopping district, the Borders building has become a talking point for those frustrated with economic development in the neighborhood.

O'Shea agreed last week that the retail environment in Beverly could use a boost, but it's not for lack of trying on his part. He claims to have shopped the Borders site to grocery chains such as Whole Foods, Mariano's, Trader Joe's and The Fresh Market.

When those discussions fell flat, he turned to sought-after retailers such as Crate & Barrel, HomeGoods and Barnes & Noble. Those meetings drew little interest, so O'Shea said he turned to the wellness industry, approaching health clubs LA Fitness & XSport Fitness only to have similar results.

Having made the rounds, he seemed hopeful that a deal could be met with this unnamed "medical user," which could see the large building and adjacent 80-space parking lot as an attractive site.

O'Shea then provided a recap on several other development projects throughout the neighborhood.

First, he reiterated his support for an Advance Auto Parts store replacing seven storefronts from 1800-1814 W. 95th St. in Beverly. The property abuts the busy 95th Street Metra depot, and some in the neighborhood have suggested a more commuter-friendly development that could better promote the area as a walkable shopping district.

But O'Shea said Beverly already has an abundance of small storefronts — too many to ever be filled. Thus, he made no apologies about replacing the long vacant strip center with a new building that will include an adjacent parking lot.

O'Shea also spoke about the former library at 95th Street and Hamilton Avenue. The stone structure that also once housed a funeral home and has been empty for 5½ years.

A local restaurant group has shown interest in using the site as a banquet facility, though liquor laws could serve as a stumbling block. Sales of alcohol are currently prohibited in the area.

"If we don't get something done soon, it is going to continue to deteriorate," O'Shea said.

O'Shea said he's be willing to work with a viable user interested in changing the liquor laws along 95th Street and in other "dry" areas in the 19th Ward. But he said he'd first want to have a high-end user — like a Trader Joe's or a Cooper's Hawk Winery — committed to the project before challenging the decades-old restriction.

"We do have some terrific restaurants in our neighborhood. I'd like to attract more," O'Shea said.

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