ANDERSONVILLE — Neighbors on Thursday got a glimpse at what Andersonville’s new park could look like, but work on the long-anticipated project isn’t expected to start anytime soon.
Chicago Park District officials have unveiled two design concepts for Park 599, the public park that will be built behind Anderson Point, the new apartment complex at 5700 N. Ashland Ave. that inhabits portions of the former Edgewater Hospital.
As part of the hospital’s redevelopment plan, MCZ Development is to gift a portion of the former medical campus to the Park District to build a park. The park has been in the works since at least 2016. And though the redeveloped campus has reopened as apartments, work on the park isn’t expected to start this summer, officials said at a community meeting.
The land has not yet been turned over to the city because the developer still has to make improvements to the space, Park District officials said.
While those infrastructure improvements are made, the Park District is moving forward with design plans. Officials unveiled two concepts for the park Thursday, each calling for a “passive park” that will include a walking path, a large lawn and gathering spaces.
The two designs primarily differ in the shape of the walking path and the type of seating provided. One design includes a peanut-shaped path with groups of tables and chairs. The other has a more pentagon-shaped path with picnic tables and lounge chairs.
Both concepts call for a fenced-in park with a large lawn and trees and other plants around the perimeter to aid with privacy. The will be benches and group seating.
The designs were based on community feedback from meetings in 2016, neighbors and officials said.
Park District officials are accepting feedback on the designs at email@example.com.
Neighbors at the community meeting asked about adding a dog-friendly area to the park, but the area is not big enough to accommodate such a feature under Park District standards, officials said. Others asked about a playground or adult fitness installations, features the Park District said it will consider and report back to the community.
But for the time being, the area will remain a brown site.
The apartments at the redeveloped medical campus opened to residents at the end of 2020 while work continues on the south part of the complex. But the development team must complete infrastructure improvements around the former campus before the city will accept the land, said Sarah White, project manager with the Park District.
The needed improvements include fixing sidewalks, curbs and streets that were damaged in the campus’ demolition and redevelopment, said Geoffrey Cubbage, policy director for Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th). He said the Chicago Department of Transportation is working with the developer on the “check list” of improvements needed.
“It’s tedious,” Cubbage said. “We want them to do a good job.”
Once the improvements are made, the city can accept the property. But then it has to be turned over to the Park District, White said.
Given that, Vasquez said he “wouldn’t bet” on work beginning this summer. His office will work with MCZ Development on completing the upgrades, but the process will give the Park District and neighbors more time to consider the park’s design, he said.
“The timeline … affords us the ability to talk about what might be added,” Vasquez said.
The Park District will accept community feedback on the project until Memorial Day. A second community meeting will likely be held this summer, officials said.
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