LITTLE VILLAGE — City Council approved the sale of the former Washburne Trade School in Little Village to St. Anthony Hospital Wednesday, making way for a new 32-acre development on the Southwest Side.
The Focal Point development will bring a hospital, a vocational school, day care center, public market, affordable housing, restaurants, retail and sports fields to the area. Under the deal approved by the City Council, St. Anthony Hospital will be allowed to purchase the site at the corner of 31st Street and Kedzie Avenue for $ 5 million.
Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd), who supported the development, called it a “good day” for the Little Village community.
“We have a nonprofit hospital that serves over 90 percent of his constituents that are both Black and Brown … This is a good deal for our community and the city of Chicago,” Rodriguez said.
The Washburne Trade School closed down in the mid ’90s and was demolished a decade ago. For years, the fate of the Chicago Public Schools-owned site remained in limbo.
St. Anthony and the North Lawndale-based film studio Cinespace launched competing bids for it, and last month, Rodriguez announced he would support St. Anthony’s bid.
Rodriguez said he is confident the project had significant community support and would bring needed resources to the area. More than 200 letters in support of the project were submitted during last week’s committee hearing, he said.
It’ll be “a major shot in the arm — not just for Little Village but for North Lawndale, Brighton Park and so many areas of our city,” Rodriguez said.
As part of a redevelopment agreement, St. Anthony Hospital and the Chicago Southwest Development Corporation will also pay $3 million to remediate the site and the new hospital must be built within six years. If not, site ownership will revert back to the city.
During a recent community meeting, some Little Village residents said supported the project while others feared the development would spur the displacement of longtime residents. Some express concern about the health care implications of building the hospital within the industrial corridor.
During public comment at City Council Wednesday, Little Village resident Lucky Camargo said St. Anthony’s plan will accelerate gentrification and push low-income residents out of the neighborhood.
St. Anthony and the development team said last month they expect to begin construction in 2023. They estimate the project will be completed in 2026.
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