OLD IRVING PARK — Northwestern Medicine is buying up an entire block in Old Irving Park — including the building that formerly housed Sabatino’s.
After 41 years at 4441 W. Irving Park Road, the family-owned restaurant closed in 2018. Regulars were devastated by the closure, packing Sabatino’s every night until it shuttered.
Soon, the building will be razed along with other businesses on Irving Park road between North Kenneth and North Kilbourn avenues, said Mitch Goltz of GW Properties.
The Fairbrother Funeral Home, 4447 W. Irving Park Road, will be demolished along with two apartment buildings and a parking lot.
“We acquired the whole block over the course of the last two years,” Goltz said. “Northwestern is purchasing the entire site from us next week. Looking at all of the development options, this is the best fit for the site with everything else going on with the ward.”
Goltz was referring to the massive projects that are finally in motion at Six Corners. Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) threw his support behind The Point at Six Corners this week, which will bring a senior center and Aldi grocery store to the corner of Milwaukee Avenue, Cicero Avenue and Irving Park Road.
Across the street, more than 400 apartments are coming to the old Sears at 4730 W. Irving Park Road.
Goltz said the two large Six Corners developments are complementary to what Northwestern intends to build on Irving Park Road.
“It’ll be a larger facility, but I really can’t speak to what kinds of services they plan to be offering there once it’s built,” Goltz said.
A spokesperson for Northwestern did not return calls for comment.
Thursday night, Gardiner knocked on doors at homes in the 3900 block of North Kenneth Avenue near the proposed development to get neighbor feedback on the plan, according to neighbors who spoke to Block Club.
Joanna Beu, who lives in the the 3900 block of North Kenneth Avenue, said Gardiner knocked on her door around 7:40 p.m. Thursday.
“It was kind of weird. He rang the doorbell to say he was stopping by to alert neighbors that Northwestern Hospital was going to buy the block on Monday,” Beu said. “He wanted us to know in advance of that happening so we wouldn’t be taken by surprise.”
Gardiner told Beu there would be meetings soon that would allow neighbors to give feedback on the project plans, but not the sale itself.
“He didn’t say anything about the scale of it at all,” she said. “I told him I was concerned about how Northwestern’s plans would impact parking on the block and traffic congestion on Irving Park Road. It’s a pretty busy street already.”
Concerns aside, Beu said she likes the idea of the entire block bringing jobs to the area and possibly boosting local businesses.
“This is the kind of facility that could be really helpful to our neighborhood, a real shot in the arm,” she said. “My primary doctor is in a different Northwestern Immediate Care facility building right now. So if I could go to a practice down the block, that’s not a terrible thing.”
Gardiner did not respond to requests for comment.
Goltz said GW Properties has a “vested interest” in the area and hopes to see it become more vibrant in the coming years.
“We’ve also bought the old Magenta Plastics property at 3800 N. Milwaukee Ave. that we’re redeveloping to bring some exciting retail and recreation uses,” Goltz said. “And we’re also redeveloping the large People’s Gas property, as well.”
Peoples Gas finalized a deal in 2017 to build an administrative campus at a site in Sauganash to leave behind its decades-old headquarters at 3955 N. Kilpatrick Ave. near the Six Corners Shopping District.
“The People’s Gas site looks like it will be a very large retail project,” Goltz said. “When we looked at Sabatino’s and all the other things that are happening in the area, all the things that are being built, we thought the Northwestern project would be a good complementary use to all the other projects happening nearby.”
This isn’t the first shuttered iconic Chicago restaurant snatched up by Northwestern.
Despite objections from neighbors and Ald. Matt Martin (47th), a Northwestern medical office will replace the Chicago Brauhaus, the shuttered German restaurant at 4732 N. Lincoln Ave.
The Brauhaus served up schnitzel, beer and live music for 52 years until its closure in December 2017. GW Properties is developing that property for Northwestern, as well.
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