Silver Cross Hospital officials hope a tax incentive program will spark new interest in its old Joliet campus.
A Tax Increment Financing District was established this month when the Joliet City Council approved the program for the 99-acre site.
"Now, we're starting the next step," Silver Cross CEO Ruth Colby said Thursday. "We're going to work hard to get something in there."
The Silver Cross property has not stood idle since the hospital was moved to New Lenox in 2012.
The former emergency room area was converted to a Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic. Aunt Martha's built its East Joliet Community Health Center on the site. Volunteers of America built Hope Manor Joliet, an apartment complex for homeless veterans.
But Silver Cross never could find a user for the old hospital building and tore it down last year in hopes of attracting a developer interested in a green-field site.
"The property looks better," Colby said. "We planted grass, and it's green space now."
Hospital and city officials would like to see that green space converted to mixed-use development, including homes, stores and other businesses.
"We're trying to improve the looks of it for the people who live around there" said Margie Woods, chairwoman of the Silver Cross Health Community Commission. "It's an old area. We want to make it look better."
Bank offices, a gas station and other businesses would be welcome additions to the neighborhood, Woods said.
"Grocery store," Woods said. "That seems to be a big complaint made to me by people is they have no place to get their groceries unless they go across the bridge."
Most of the city's supermarkets are on the West Side of Joliet.
The old Silver Cross campus is an area somewhat remote from the commercial districts that are on the East Side of the city.
The Joliet City Council on April 16 approved the Tax Increment Financing District, which can be used to offset development costs with property tax dollars generated by new construction.
Any tax dollars generated by an increase in property values once the TIF District is established can be used for economic development.
A TIF District also has been established to revitalize the neighborhood surrounding AMITA Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet.