Advocate Health Group medical center proposal is taking shape

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

Advocate Health & Hospitals Corp.’s plans for a medical building on the former Beatty Lumber property at 9537 S. 52nd Ave. is scheduled for consideration by the Oak Lawn Village Board at its next meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

The proposal for a two-story, 58,400 square-foot building to include doctors’ offices, a lab, pharmacy and an outpatient clinic already received approval from the Planning and Development Commission. The Architectural Review Board approved the site elevation plans last Thursday, subject to some changes requested by nearby residents at an informal community meeting that Mayor Sandra Bury hosted on July 26.

If it receives village board approval, Advocate hopes to open the facility in spring 2018.

Village officials said the new medical center is expected to create at least 105 new permanent jobs.

“And these will be completely new jobs, not jobs moved from somewhere else,” noted Bury.

About two dozen residents joined Bury and Village Administrator Larry Deetjen at the community meeting to discuss their traffic and privacy concerns about the proposed development located close to Patriot Station, the local Metra station.

“We want to preserve the neighborhood feel of the community and safety for our children, and enhance the flow of traffic,” said Bury.

The village is already planning to install a streetlight at 50th Avenue and 95th Street, which everyone agreed would be needed due to the increased traffic generated by the medical building.

However, the village officials said there is no guarantee that the streetlight will be up before the medical building is finished because Illinois Department of Transportation has not yet given final approval for the light, which depends on heavy traffic counts to be deemed necessary.

Shelly and Paul DeRousse, who live on 50th Avenue near 96th Street, said the heavy traffic that is expected to come is one of their main concerns.

“We have three children, and there are a lot of children in the neighborhood. They play in the alleys because they are safe now, but I am afraid that commuters will start using the alleys to avoid the traffic congestion,” said Shelly DeRousse.

Several residents of the four-story Arbor Court Condominiums, at 5100 W. 96th St., were also there, and raised some concerns about the view they will have of the new building from their nearby balconies.

John Benware, chairman of the Architectural Review Board, was there and took note of the issues. During a meeting he chaired on Thursday, one of the changes he suggested is that Advocate could make a green roof with vegetation.

“Having greenery and vegetation on the roof will give the condo residents something to look at more than white concrete,” said Benware.

Deetjen, who also lives in Arbor Court, said he agreed with residents that the traffic around the area currently can be dangerous, with so many motorists going to and from the parking garage, especially in the morning and evening.

He said that the planned closure of Narrow Street, which some motorists use now to get to 52nd Avenue, will likely cut down on a lot of the congestion.

David Gabriel and John Maiberger, both residents of 52nd Avenue, cited privacy as their main issues with the new building, which will be built very close to their yards.

“I actually think the building looks quite nice, but privacy is a major thing with me,” said Gabriel. He pointed out that he invested a lot of money to build a nice deck in his yard, where he and his family spend a lot of time.

“The building will be so close that I won’t be able to eat my dinner with my shades open,” he said.

When he suggested that a wall be built around the medical center to shield nearby homes, Deetjen said perhaps a berm, with trees might be a better alternative.

“I don’t mind, if you want to put 10-foot trees around it, that would be fine with me,” said Gabriel.

Benware said that in response to that discussion he asked the developers to limit the number of windows on the rear section of the new building closest to the residents. He also said the board also stressed the need for an elevated berm.

“(The developers) didn’t have a complete landscaping plan so they will have to come back with that. But we were happy with the elevation plans, aside from a few minor changes,” said Benware.

Trustee Bob Streit (3rd), whose district includes the new development, said after the community meeting that the project would be voted on Aug. 9, as long as al the concerns were addressed and too many changes weren’t needed.

“I think we can work the differences out. It looks like things are moving ahead,” said the trustee.

“We don’t want to slow them down, We want to move forward,” said Bury.

Most of the residents at the community meeting agreed to form a neighborhood committee to continue working on solving the traffic concerns as the project moves forward.

Hickory Hills council: no more video gaming cafes

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins


The Hickory Hills City Council has determined that the city has enough video game cafes.

During a brief discussion at last Thursday’s city council meeting on new business, Mayor Mike Howley questioned the board as to their thoughts on adding another café and liquor license to the existing roster of 10

Howley said he had recently received a request for an additional café and liquor license.

“At this time, we do not have any remaining licenses and I am not inclined to prepare an ordinance to create one, especially after what we have recently gone through,” he said.

His comment was a reference to the on-again, off-again matter of a liquor license for Sonny’s Café, which is currently licensed but has not yet opened.

“If Sonny’s does not open we would have a vacant license which could be considered, but that is an ‘iffy’ maybe,” said Howley.

“We have enough of them, we don’t need anymore,” said Ald. Debbie Ferrero (2nd Ward).

Her sentiments were echoed by the entire council.

On another matter, Ald. Brian Fonte (3rd Ward) who chairs the Health and Environmental Control/Recycling commission, asked for additional time to review proposals he has received from various electronic recycling companies.

On July 7, the council heard a presentation on “At the Door Recycling,” presented by Waste Management, the company that currently has a contract with the city for refuse collection. Fonte said he is waiting for additional information on the proposals.

An approval was granted to Police Chief Al Vodicka, who presented a request to fill a vacancy created in the department after an officer recently retired. He requested permission to promote an officer from the ranks to fill the vacancy and to then hire a new officer to fill that position.

A business license was approved for Jeffrey Adams, who is opening Distribution Warehouse at 9905 S. 78th Ave. He will distribute books and art materials to stores such as Hobby Lobby, Dollar Tree, Kmart, Jewel-Osco, Walmart and Hallmark, as well as schools.

Omar Almosalam received a business license for his FruteX, Inc., 9831 S. 78th Ave. He buys candy wholesale in bulk and re-packages it for resale at 99 cents for the Chicago area.

City Clerk Dee Catizone announced that the Secretary of State Mobile Driver Services facility will be at City Hall, 8652 W. 95th St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16.

Services provided will include a driver’s license renewal, state ID cards, duplicate licenses, corrected licenses, vision screening with DL renewals and vehicle renewal sticker for license plates. Any Illinois resident can attend. The mobile facility does not offer a road test.


Carson's will get the ball rolling for Marketplace

  • Written by Joe Boyle

With demolition of The Plaza nearly complete, the dawn of a new era for Evergreen Park begins with the grand opening of the new Carson’s scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton said the new Carson’s, which is located along 98th Street a block west of Western Avenue, will be open and running on Sept. 14 and will immediately replace the old Carson’s.

The original store faces Western Avenue while the new two-story structure can be found right behind it, less than a block away to the southwest. The two stores will share the same parking for just over a month.

“When the new Carson’s opens, the old Carson’s will close,” said Sexton. “The old Carson’s will be demolished beginning in January.”

Workers were busy last Thursday at the new Carson’s as they prepare the facility for next month’s grand opening. A few shelves have been brought in as ladders and tools can be found on both floors. Sexton did mention that a kids clothing department will be found on the second floor.

When the new Carson’s officially opens its doors, this will officially mark the first phase of the new Evergreen Marketplace, which replaces the once iconic Plaza, designed by Arthur Rubloff. The Plaza opened in 1952 and became a huge success during the prosperous 1950s leading into the 1960s. It was originally an open-air shopping center that became one of the first enclosed malls in 1966.

“This was Arthur Rubloff’s baby,” recalls Sexton, who frequently visited and shopped at The Plaza over the years. “But it had its time. I’m excited about what’s happening now. Everything is going well and they are ahead of schedule.”

Large piles of concrete are essentially what are left of where The Plaza was located. Besides the old Carson’s, the other lone facility in this area that dates back to the days of The Plaza would be an existing tower. The facility is next door to the old Carson’s and served as office space for The Plaza. Sexton said that this will eventually be replaced by more restaurants.

The new Carson’s facility, which is 120,470 square feet, stands alone but construction will begin soon for more retail businesses. Next door to the new Carson’s will be DSW, a Petco, Five Below, T.J. Max, Ulta, Rally House, 365 by Whole Foods Market, Carter Oshkosh and Dress Barn. A Dick’s Sporting Goods Store will round out these series of stores and borders Campbell Avenue.

Dick’s Sporting Goods will be 49,327 square feet. The 365 by Whole Foods is scheduled to be 30,000 square feet. TJ Max will be 21,000 square feet. Room is available for another business.

Ample parking will be available in front of this series of businesses, according to Sexton. A series of restaurants will be found along Western Avenue from 98th Street south to 95th Street north. The eateries will be set back with new landscaping facing Western Avenue, said Sexton.

Sexton has suggested putting in a fountain near where the restaurants will be.

“People driving past will see it and say, ‘what is going on over there? Let’s check it out.’ I think it can draw more interest,” said Sexton.

Sexton is encouraged by this portion of the project for a number of reasons.

“You have over 400,000 square feet of retail,” said Sexton. “The one thing that is not mentioned is that many of these people working here live right around here. We are putting people to work. This is union labor out there.”

Along with the restaurants facing Western Avenue, a Visionworks and an AT&T facility will also be included.

The Applebee’s restaurant is the one outlet eatery from the days of The Plaza. The restaurant will remain at its current location along Western Avenue and near 95th Street. It will be joined by a Potbelly’s restaurant and Naf Naf Grill. Between AT&T to the south and the eateries to the north will be an outdoor seating area of 314 square feet, according to the Marketplace plans.

West of those restaurants remains Planet Fitness, located at the northern end of the old Plaza that faces 95th Street. Retail space of 36,032 is available for more retailers to join Planet Fitness.

If construction plans continue as expected, 365 by Whole Foods and Five Below will open next May. Carter’s Oshkosh, Ulta and TJ Maxx will open in next June, if the construction plans remain ahead of schedule.

“This will be great for the village and we also draw people from the Beverly area in Chicago,” added Sexton. “I just can’t wait to hear those cash registers ring.”

Jeff Vorva's Extra Point: Could Chicago be Dwyane's World in the next two years?

  • Written by Jeff Vorva



Photo by Jeff Vorva

Let’s hope this works out.

Last week couldn’t have been a better week for former Richards High School basketball star Dwyane Wade.

On Wednesday, he was at Wrigley Field taking in the White Sox-Cubs game, on Thursday he was on stage in front of thousands at the Lollapalooza festival.

Then on Friday afternoon, the guy was finally formally introduced as a member of the Bulls at a slick 45-minute press conference at the Advocate Center in Chicago and it drew a couple of hundred people and was broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

A few seasoned media veterans said they couldn’t remember the last time a personnel-changing press conference drew this many so I am going to guess it was 1999 when Michael Jordan announced his second retirement at the United Center in front of 800 of us and told everyone he was going to be taking his kids to school while he was sporting a bandaged digit.

Oh, and Wade is featured prominently on a large lighted sign outside the United Center.

Wade, who grew up a Bulls fan, called it a “dream come true” to finally play in his hometown.

Dwyane Wade loves Chicago and Chicago loves Dwyane Wade.

Life is good.

For now.

I would love to tell you this guy is going to save the Bulls, average 26 points a game and maybe be an MVP as he, Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler lead the team to an NBA championship in a four-game sweep over Golden State.  

Some might tell you that at age 34 (he will turn 35 in January) his best years are behind him after 13 years in Miami, he could spend a lot of time mending his body. Critic may say at $48.5 million for two years, he could be a huge bust.

I think the answer lies in between.

I see a guy who will be dazzling some nights, sluggish other nights and on the bench in a suit during some other nights. I see him making a dramatic game-winning shot or three as the Bulls win a series or two in the playoffs.

I also see a guy who may be of great value teaching some of the younger players on the team how to work, train and act like a superstar. The public image of this guy has been pretty clean over the years and he’s one of the few elite athletes who gets it. If young players listen to him and follow his example, they should have great careers.  

"This is one of those moments that is a dream come true,” he said Friday. “Simply that. I'm a Chicago guy, a Chicago kid. I remember sitting on the floor and watching the Chicago Bulls win their first title. I was 9 years old, watching on an itty bitty TV like the size of an iPhone, and I said, 'That's what I want to do, that's who I want to be.'

"My dream of being an NBA player started here in my hometown. Took a long time to get here, but I'm here."

He said all the right things. He said this was Butler’s team (moments after saying it was really Jerry Reinsdorf’s team) and there won’t be any problems there. He says he has butted heads with Rondo in the past as opponents but loves having a guy who gives up the ball as a teammate so there shouldn’t be any problems there.

Wade did warn fans and media about expectations. He said until this team steps on the floor and started practicing, there is no way to tell how good or bad the Bulls will be. But he likes what he sees so far.

Chicago is a tough town and fans are going to demand that he performs well. Wade assures us all he still has something left in the tank.

Let’s hope so. It would be a shame if his “dream come true’’ becomes a nightmare.



Chicago Lions Club to provide services for families at RidgeFest

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

The new Chicago Ridge Lions Club will have a big presence on Sunday at RidgeFest, which begins today in Freedom Park at Birmingham Avenue and Oak Street.

Sunday is Family Day for the 27th Annual Ridgefest, when Chicago Ridge residents are admitted free. So Bill Lammel, founding president of the chapter, said it was decided that would be the best day to offer hearing and vision services.

“We’re working with the Lions Club of Illinois Foundation, and we’ll be offering hearing tests for adults and seniors on a bus parked outside the entrance to the fest on Birmingham Avenue from 3 to 5 p.m.,” he explained. “No appointment necessary. All they have to do is fill out a release and get a hearing screening.”

Also on Sunday, along with the carnival rides, petting zoo, musical entertainment, bingo and other attractions, the Lions Club will have a booth inside the fest offering free vouchers worth $250. “They are good for an eye exam and a pair of glasses,” said Lammel, adding that the vouchers are available through a partnership with VSP Global. “We were hoping to get the vision testing done at the fest too, but we couldn’t have both a vision and hearing bus at the same event.”

Lammel said that his chapter, which was only founded last October, is also planning to partner with the Orland Park Lions Club to host a local vision screening for children ages 6 months to 6 years, using a new tool the Orland Park chapter recently bought. He explained that the new vision screening tool is able to check children for astigmatism and other correctable vision conditions.

“They don’t make a diagnosis. But they will just advise parents to see an eye doctor,” he noted.

Lammel said that the testing and vouchers are available to everyone on a first-come, first served basis, not just Chicago Ridge residents.

The chapter president, a 30-year resident of Chicago Ridge, is a special education teacher in Orland School District 135. He said he decided to start the Lions Club chapter to help community residents after getting somewhat involved in the 2015 local elections.

“A lot of craziness in the last election,” said Lammel, referring to the campaign in which insurance benefits for past and present trustees became one of the most divisive local issues.

“I wanted to see if I could bring people together across town and make Chicago Ridge a place where people want to come to visit and live in peacefully,” he said.

“I’m not getting involved in politics again,” he said.

The new Lions Club was officially founded last October with 45 charter members,

“We’ve added one more member since then, so we are up to 46 now,” Lammel noted.

The new chapter’s first activity held last spring was handing out the same type of vouchers being made available at RidgeFest to qualified students at Ridge Central and Ridge Lawn elementary schools, and Finley Junior High School. They did the same at a senior club meeting.

More recently, as summer was starting last month, the Lions Club also brought residents together for a local beautification project in which they fill planters along Ridgeland Avenue with flowers and greenery.

“Our current members range in age from their 30s to their 60s. We are always looking for more,” said Lammel. The minimum age for Lions Club membership is 18.

He said anyone interested in joining the Chicago Ridge Lions Club may come to a meeting, which are held at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month at Ridge Lawn School, 5757 W. 105th St. Those seeking more information may also call him at (708) 289-3438.