A 9-acre former hospital site south of downtown Aurora that has stood dormant for the past 23 years, inviting vandals and trespassers, is set for environmental cleanup to make way for new residential and medical uses.
The city council this week approved an agreement with a group of local investors who plan to start work this fall to remove asbestos, lead paint and other toxins inside the former Copley Hospital at Lincoln and Weston avenues.
The group, called Fox Valley Developers, LLC, includes six members who will front the estimated $12 million to $16 million in cleanup costs before qualifying for a $3 million reimbursement from the city once regulatory agencies deem the site safe. The group hopes to have the cleanup completed by next spring.
Aurora Alderman Bill Donnell, whose ward includes the 340,000-square-foot former hospital campus, said the city council approved the agreement unanimously.
"After decades of decay and delay, we are moving forward with a partner who will immediately improve the campus by removing the environmental hazards and toxic debris so that the property can be completely redeveloped," Mayor Richard Irvin said in a news release. "This property has been a detriment to the community for far too long."
Removal of asbestos and other harmful substances in the property's nine buildings, built between 1888 and the 1970s, is the first project Fox Valley Developers will tackle.
"We're going to immediately remediate it," said Patrick Skarr, spokesman for Fox Valley Developers. "We're going to preserve it so it can be redeveloped because it's literally starting to crumble."
Taking on the project are Jason Konrad, Paul Konrad, Russell Woerman, Ronald Woerman, Dr. Stathis Poulakidas and Michael Poulakidas. They are owners of Aurora businesses, restaurants and a law office, construction leaders, a doctor and a WGN TV weather forecaster. Several are graduates of Waubonsie Valley High School on the far east side of town.
The property's current owners, listed in a city memo as Raghuveer and Anita Nayak, have been sued by the city in federal court. The city put those proceedings on hold in light of the plans from Fox Valley Developers.
Skarr said the agreement approved this week specifies Fox Valley Developers will lease the property until the owners donate it to the Invest Aurora partnership for economic development. Invest Aurora then will sell the "very special" site to the developers, Skarr said.
"They can create something transformative there," he said, "and create pride and prosperity in the neighborhood."
Fox Valley Developers plans to finalize designs for medical and residential uses within the existing buildings while the environmental cleanup is underway. The group intends to begin the public zoning and approval process by the end of next spring.