Residents hope Nitti makes good neighbor

Homeowners cautiously optimistic about Berteau-property buyer

ELMHURST – Elmhurst Memorial Hospital agreed to sell its Berteau Campus property to Nitti Development, which plans to build single family homes on the 11-acre site.

But what that means for Elmhurst residents is not clear.

“We’ve always had the hospital as a neighbor,” said Peggy Whitlow, who has lived in the 200 block of East Second Street for seven years.

She added that Elmhurst Memorial has always been a good neighbor. It was a comment repeated by many of Whitlow’s neighbors.

In particular, Whitlow said the hospital maintained good communication with residents. She hopes the developer will continue that relationship.

Tom Karo has lived in his East Second Street home for 40 years and doesn’t see what influence other residents could have on what Nitti builds or how they build it.

“We have to tolerate it,” Karo said of the private sale.

Whitlow and others shared concern for the cul-de-sac where they live.

Austin Lohan grew up on the block and wants to see the cul-de-sac stay as well. Kate Kocinski another East Second Street resident is worried with new single-family homes going up on the property, the cul-de-sac may turn into a through street into the prospective new subdivision.

“This street is a street in transition,” Emery Whitlow said.

He explained that while some homes have been here for decades, others are new and young families are moving onto the street. He said the cul-de-sac is safer for young children.

Assistant City Manager Mike Kopp said the City Council would have to approve any changes to the cul-de-sac. In fact, he said that because the subdivision will be bigger than one acre, Nitti’s plans will have to go through the zoning and planning commission and eventually the City Council for approval.

The other concern some East Second Street residents shared revolved around the impending construction. With one home on the street currently under construction, neighbors have had to put up with noise and large trucks on the street. Multiplying that by the estimated 50 homes expected on the Berteau Campus property could produce quite a disruption. Of course, the hospital building has to come down first.

“We know it’s going to be nasty for a while,” Lohan said.

Still, he thinks the sale of the property is an overall benefit for the neighborhood where he grew up. He and his wife, Rachel, have lived in a house across the street from his mother for the past eight years.

“Obviously we don’t want a vacant three-story building,” Austin Lohan said.

His mother Laurel Lohan agreed that while the hospital has always been a good neighbor, she’s welcoming a change from the “vacant monster,” at the end of her street.

“It’d be nice to have something there,” said Laurel Lohan, who has lived on East Second Street for 32 years.

Nitti Development expects to finalize the sale in the spring, but the company’s president, Joe Nitti, said he does not have a construction start date yet.

Kocinski is worried about what the influx of potentially 50 families could mean for the city and school district.

“Our school will obviously be overcrowded,” she said.

She added that the type of homes built could affect the community. She hoped the houses will vary and Nitti won’t build a “cookie cutter” subdivision of similar homes.

“We’re hoping that it doesn’t all look the same,” Laurel Lohan agreed.

Elmhurst’s Developing, Planning and Zoning Committee has been reviewing the city’s anti-monotony policy to apply it to the building code in preparation for the property’s sale.

Even with his concerns, Austin Lohan thinks Nitti’s agreement to purchase the land will be a good change from the vacant hospital campus.

“We’re excited overall,” he said.