Rehabilitation Institute coming to River Forest

? Renowned medical institution plans to lease 8,800-square-foot Thatcher Ave. site from Granite Realty.

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The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago will open a new satellite out-patient operation at 416-420 Thatcher Ave. just south of Lake Street by the end of this year or early next year. The medical facility, which will treat spinal, sports, and muscular-skeletal injuries, will lease a new building to be constructed on a site currently occupied by an 18-unit apartment complex, owned by Granite Realty of Oak Park. River Forest village staff has been meeting with that developer's demolition company, according to Village Administrator Charles Biondo, who stated in a Feb. 28 memo that "actual work on the site is expected to begin in the next 2 to 3 weeks."

Rob Palley of Granite Realty, said Friday that the proposed structure is compliant with current zoning for the Thatcher Avenue site, and that his organization will appear before the village's Development Review Board March 17 for a formal site plan review, the final step in the approval process prior to demolition. Granite Realty has been involved in previous redevelopment projects in River Forest, including several townhomes in the 7600 block of Lake Street, as well as a recently approved upscale 6-townhouse development at Park Avenue and Madison Street on the village's southern border.

Both the RIC and Granite Realty expressed satisfaction with the arrangement last Friday.

"The Rehabilitation Institute is a world-renowned organization," said Palley. "River Forest will be extremely fortunate to have a business of this caliber."

For his part, Dr. Joel Press, the River Forest resident who will be the new facility's medical director, shares that sense of anticipation. Press said the project, the continuation of a process the RIC has been involved with for 11 years, is also somewhat unique. The RIC has opened some 25 satellite operations around the Chicago area, but only a few have been built from the ground up, specifically for use as rehabilitation centers.

"It's definitely exciting to build a building we can contour to our needs," Press said. In addition, he said, he's excited about the ability to offer what he termed "one stop shopping" to the area's rehab patients.

"We'll have physicians, therapists, chiropractors and radiologists all in one spot," said Press.

Expectations are for the facility to be open for business in either late 2005 or early 2006.

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