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Thursday, May 15, 2003 02:20 pm

More med district maneuvers

Enos Park property available—for the right price.

Duane Schlueter wanted to make some money from Springfield hospitals, family members say, but his refusal to visit one put an end to his plan.

Schlueter, who died on Saturday, January 18, at the age of 62, owned a couple of lots in Enos Park near the southwest corner of Third and Carpenter. "He was hoping the hospital would buy all of that," his brother Darrell says.

"I told him about a year ago to see a doctor," says Darrell, who lives just north of Clayton. A third brother recently had a heart attack. A fourth just had open-heart surgery. Darrell says Duane died of an enlarged heart. "He didn't miss a day of work," he says. "I don't go to the doctor either. I guess it runs in the family."

Schlueter's property lies within Springfield's new Medical District, which is bordered by Walnut, 11th, North Grand, and Madison. The state created the district earlier this year to spur growth in the city's medical industry. A master plan, which hasn't been created yet, is supposed to protect the residential neighborhoods within the district while directing development--all under the authority of a commission with members appointed by the governor, the mayor of Springfield, and the chair of the Sangamon County Board.

Darrell Schlueter wasn't aware of the medical district, but says it matters little. He's mostly concerned with quickly liquidating his brother's estate. "We're going to have to get those lots sold," he says. He hasn't had time to put the property on the market; not all the details of his brother's estate have been sorted out yet, he says. Duane Schlueter owned a house as well as a few other properties in Springfield.

A few years ago, Duane Schlueter half realized his wish. He sold at least one lot near his others in Enos Park to a group of physicians incorporated as Surgical Partners, Inc.

In 1998, Surgical Partners bought several lots at the northwest corner of Fourth and Carpenter. The partners planned to build a medical facility, but changed their minds. Instead, they established offices on the west side of town. Surgical Partners dissolved in 2001.

The property is still owned by Surgical Partners, according to county records. That's because one remaining partner, Dr. Mike Watson, still owns the land--at least for the short term. Watson is an orthopedic surgeon whose practice, Watson Orthopedics at 320 E. Carpenter, is across the street from his empty lots. He is trying to sell the property as a package for $299,000. According to his agent, Jay Clark, the 22,000-square-foot property has variances for medical office buildings and a parking lot for up to 33 cars.

"It's a fairly prime location to build something," Watson says. "It's primarily for sale. But my business is going to expand in the future, in about two to three years in some way or another. If it's not sold, I might expand there myself."

Watson says he's been approached by developers, who "have tossed around" various proposals for his land but none of them serious. "Three years ago, they wanted to put up a Burger King." There's been a lot of activity across the street from Watson's lots. On the northeast corner of Fourth and Carpenter, Springfield developer Ralph Hurwitz has acquired property, but has yet to announce specific plans for it.

Watson's been at his current location for a few years, and he plans to remain within the medical district: "We're staying here, regarding the medical district. We're planning on being a presence."

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