Photo by Danny Ecker
A Chicago developer wants to build a four-story medical office building in Lincoln Park with high visibility from the Kennedy Expressway.
A venture of developer Warren Baker applied to rezone the site at 1842-58 W. Webster Ave., just blocks from the city's new North Branch corridor redevelopment area.
Baker's tentative plan is to demolish the closed vehicle emissions testing facility on the site and replace it with a 101,905-square-foot office building designed for medical use.
"Our research tells us that medical use is underserved" in the western portion of Lincoln Park, Baker said. "There's a huge hole in the market and it's vastly underserved."
The proposal contemplates parking for 185 cars on the site, which is along the Metra track just east of the Kennedy, according to the application.
Baker paid about $5.6 million last month for the property, which has been unused since the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency closed the emissions testing center last fall. The state closed four testing sites, including two in Chicago, as a cost-saving measure.
Baker doesn't plan to start construction without an anchor tenant lined up and said he is targeting the city's major hospitals. He sees the site as a prime location because of its proximity to the expressway.
"If you want to build your brand and want people to know who you are and where you are, it doesn't get much better than that," he said.
The plan has surfaced as the city takes its first steps to relax zoning restrictions on the 3.7-mile North Branch corridor to allow new residential and retail development on 760 acres along the Chicago River stretching from Kinzie Street up to Fullerton Avenue near the emissions testing site. Those uses are currently banned.
Betting on a huge influx of residents gravitating toward the river, major developers like Sterling Bay have been snapping up property near the corridor's north end from various manufacturers that dominated the area for decades.Baker also is behind a separate project near the corridor. His firm is redeveloping an office building between the river and the Horween Leather tannery just south of Webster Street.