EDGEWATER — The Edgewater Medical Center has been closed since 2001, but it's still standing today — and neighbors want to know why.
The beleaguered site at 5700 N. Ashland Ave. has languished ever since it was closed following a fraud scandal, but was eventually sold to MCZ Developments for $7.5 million.
MCZ planned to redevelop the multi-building campus into apartments, parking and a passive park controlled by the Chicago Park District. The deal included two parts: the main hospital buildings and, separately, its parking garage.
Though the demolition of the garage occurred shortly after it was acquired in late 2014, MCZ was not obligated to go forward with the remaining hospital development unless it received tax increment financing assistance from the city, according to court documents.
Edgewater Medical Center, the custodial entity which oversaw the property, sued MCZ in September 2015 after TIF dollars had yet to be approved for the project, among other complaints. However the case was voluntarily dropped in early 2016.
City records show no funds from the Edgewater/Ashland TIF district, which was created in 2003 to spur development of the area, have been approved for projects at the site related to the hospital.
In the meantime, little work has been done and neighbors say they are frustrated with changing stories and timelines.
Though some demolition work took place earlier this year — such as the back of one Edgewater Avenue-facing four-story tower — wrecking crews have now removed construction equipment from the site, much to the dismay of neighbors who have long-awaited the hospital's redevelopment.
In April, two months after the city approved wrecking permits, Todd Mullen of MCZ told residents the "demolition contractor has been busy working" readying the site for wrecking.
However, in July, Mullen said that in reality demolition crews had been asked to stop working in April "in order to make sure that we had full approval from the City and Park environmental consultants on our remediation plan."
Some residents said contractors with Ground Crew have recently told them they had not been paid by MCZ, though Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th) said those claims were false and that equipment had been moved to make room for a new remediation crew.
Ground Crew did not respond to requests for comment.
(Story continues below)The development plans include 9 studios, 100 one-bedroom units and 32 two-bedroom units. [MCZ Development]
While construction remains up in the air, the entire back half of the four-story tower continues to be exposed.
It's an easy entrance for urban explorers, many of whom have targeted the hospital since its closure. Those who live close to the property say those visits have surged in recent months.
There is 24-hour security at the site. However it consists of a single guard watching over the six-building campus.
In his latest message to neighbors, Mullen said on July 20 remediation would take more time but that he still expected demolition to be complete by the year's end.
"We are sorry for the delay, and I know everyone is frustrated, but making sure that everyone was on the same page regarding the remediation was critical," Mullen said. "Now that we are complete with all of the approvals we are looking forward to moving the project forward."
Residents will have a chance to address Mullen, O'Connor and others on-board with the project in person at an upcoming community meeting, set to begin at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 10 at Rogers Park Montessori School, 1800 W. Balmoral Ave.
See a brief history of the building's recent construction timeline below: