A standing-room only crowd of Andersonville residents in Chicago turned out for a presentation regarding plans for the Edgewater Hospital site on Ashland. Alderman Patrick O’Connor presented a developer’s proposal that will include a one acre park, as well as a 214 unit apartment building, and 17 single family homes. Local community organizations were represented, including West Andersonville Neighbors Together, West Edgewater Area Residents, Andersonville Development Corporation and Andersonville Chamber of Commerce.

Why is the park so important to the residents of West Andersonville? Speaking from my point of view as a long time Andersonville resident and local realtor, I know the park will make a great contribution to the quality of life in the community. Not only will it provide much needed play space in a location where parents and their children don’t have to risk life and limb crossing major streets to reach the park. The park will also serve as a meet up location, in a neighborhood that is lacking space, and the green space will be lovely.

Research indicates there is generally an increase in property values for the areas that surrounds the park. However, there is a cost to all of this. The Chicago Park District, although willing to own the property, indicates that it expects the local community to assume maintenance of the park, raising funds to support this if necessary. Visit Chicago-Househunter for more information about home values and amenities in Andersonville.

The proposed 12 story apartment building will front on Ashland, and to have the same footprint and height as the existing hospital building. But how will a 12 story building at that location fare, when it is surrounded by housing and building stock that is generally less than 3 stories? Will the building be at odds with the charm of the small town feel of Andersonville, with its low density, early 20th century style homes and storefronts?

The proposal for the structure includes retail space at ground level to provide services such as dry cleaners and convenience/grocery store for the apartment residents. Given the number of vacancies in retail space, especially at the north end of Clark Street, there is some question as to whether we need more retail space in Andrsonville. There is also concern that it may pull retail traffic from established businesses on Clark Street. At the meeting, a preference was expressed for locally owned businesses, but no guarantee was provided.

On the plus side for the development is its planned green roof, as well as set-backs planned for the west elevation to allow light and prevent shadows in the new park. And of course we are all curious as to who will be the selling agent for the 17 new homes proposed. If all goes as planned, with permitting, funding, etc., the project will be approved and start by fall of 2013.

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