Two medical practices, including one that bypassed locating in Oak Lawn, have told the Oak Lawn Leaf that Village officials “discouraged” them from purchasing or building on the longtime undeveloped properties along Southwest Highway, in the third district, raising the question whether politics is behind the administration’s actions.
Robert Streit, the Third District Trustee, has advocated for years on behalf of Southwest Highway as a perfect “medical district” location that sits between Christ Advocate Hospital and Palos Community Hospital and allows Doctors to travel between the two well regarded facilities. Streit has also argued that Southwest Highway connects Oak Lawn to Chicago, Hometown, Palos and Orland to bring more patients to the medical practices.
Despite Streit’s advocacy and development of some medical buildings over the years on the strip, many medical uses have been squeezed into areas on 95th Street with large parking variations over his objections. Village Manager Larry Deetjen has proudly pointed to the western entrance of the Village along 95th Street where Little Company of Mary Hospital has a medical practice facility on an old Bally Fitness location. Across the street, an old automobile dealership now contains a medical use. Deetjen has told developers and their representatives that the two medical uses provide an inviting entrance to the village.
However, two medical uses that recently thought about locating in Oak Lawn have told the Oak Lawn Leaf that village officials ‘steered’ them away from Southwest Highway and ‘pushed’ development on 95th Street. One of the medical practices involved decided to locate outside of Oak Lawn claiming that the village administration was too hard to work with and ‘more concerned’ with ‘foot traffic’ for other businesses than the best location for the business. Another doctor did locate his practice on 95th Street, which is the village’s most valuable sales tax generating property. Medical practices do not pay sales tax and the only revenue comes from property taxes.
Both the Doctor who located in the village and the company that chose another location cooperated with the Oak Lawn Leaf investigation only after being assured of anonymity. The Doctor said that he considered Southwest Highway but was told “you don’t want to put your practice over there”.
Ironically, Mayor Sandra Bury and her allies have used the lack of development on Southwest Highway against Streit, who owns a building on the street that contains two of his businesses and his Third District Constituent Office. Streit said he is disappointed if the administration is intentionally “steering” medical buildings away from Southwest Highway.