UPTOWN — After years of heated discussion over its architectural significance, demolition has finally begun on the former Cuneo Hospital and Maryville Academy.
The site, which has been vacant for the last eight years, is slated to become a luxury apartment complex by JDL Development. Demolition began earlier this week and continued Wednesday with crews working on the building on the west side of Clarendon Avenue.
Before it was Maryville Academy, it was the Frank Cuneo Memorial Hospital, a 140-bed women and children's hospital that opened in 1957. The hospital was designed by architect Edo J. Belli, who "introduced a new modernism to Roman Catholic architecture" around Chicago, according to Preservation Chicago.
At the time, "it was the most modern of hospitals, including a stunning lobby, and operating rooms with patterned walls and floors of individually designed Romany-Spartan glazed tile walls, according to Preservation Chicago.
The hospital was closed in July 1988 and converted into a Maryville Academy site used to evaluate and house children who were wards of the state until it closed in 2009.
The Clarendon Montrose TIF District was created in 2010 to foster development near Clarendon Park. The 31-acre district "is characterized by vacant institutional buildings, public open spaces and community facilities" with no tax-generating properties in the district when it was formed, according to the City of Chicago website.
In August 2013, the city declined to grant Cuneo Memorial Hospital landmark status, citing existing demolition permits about a month after Friends of Cuneo had submitted an application for the status.
The new development has been a hot-button issue because it would use $15.8 million in TIF funds for the apartments, but supporters have argued the prime lakefront property isn't collecting taxes now because it is tax exempt.
The property on the east side of Clarendon Avenue would include a one-story building with retail space with 11 outdoor parking spaces. The total project will cost an estimated $125 million, and the TIF financing would make up about 12.7 percent of the total cost, the report said.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here.