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Hospital land grab angers Phillips residents

By Julie Miller;* The Alley Newspaper  May 25, 2006

If it would wreck your whole day to come home from work and discover your house was gone, then you need to read this story, because it could happen to you! This is real. It is not a test. It is not science fiction and you have not just entered the Twilight Zone. You have entered the Lifesciences Corridor, another dimension where homes are dispensable, parking ramps are the future, and hospitals can go from “good neighbor” to “perpetrator” in the blink of an eye.

Don’t take my word for it folks, take a walk or drive around the 2500 block of Chicago Ave. and you will see what the future has in store for you. The once stately and solid Victorian houses are gone now—nothing but a memory and a flat place in the dirt. This is the awful truth. It is not a cruel hoax, a bad joke or a dream from which you can awaken to find a world that still makes sense. This ain’t no disco, fellow citizens, and we’re definitely not in Kansas anymore. Who needs the excitement of reality TV when we all live in an endangered environment? “Survivor: Phillips Neighborhood” is filming at a block near you.

This is a story about how a corporation can turn a neighborhood into a parking lot in less time than it takes KFC to rustle up a bucket of extra crispy. A story of how a city block in Phillips West came to be destroyed by Children’s Hospital without the consent of the neighbors or the neighborhood organization. How Children’s Hospital broke a formal, solemn and binding covenant with the residents of our block and community, and placed 13 more blocks at risk. How the neighbors didn’t learn of Children’s impending encroachment until the hospital already had control of most of the homes through their intermediary, developer Jim Dowds (aka Prima Land Inc.). It’s the story of how we left for work one day surrounded by lovely, century-old houses, and came home that evening to find one of those homes and its trees gone; and over the following days and weeks another, and another, until eight houses were obliterated, along with all the trees. How all this was done in blatant violation of a Multi-Block Land Use Covenant signed by Children’s Hospital—a 14-block agreement which existed to protect every single home on my block, “Block 5,” and the other 13 blocks surrounding the hospitals.

Archives of Julie Miller’s previous articles on Block 5

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