The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s new hospital plan has lost some weight, and gained some fans.
When the plans were first presented to the public five months ago, there was little opposition. Neighbors expressed the usual concerns about traffic and light, but not at the usual volume and without the usual anger.
The RIC has gone through the neighborhood’s complaints and suggestions and made some adjustments to its plan. Among them:
- The building has been redesigned to allow CDOT to widen McClurg Court, should it choose to do so in the future.
- Building has been narrowed to preserve views and increase light.
- Sidewalk widths have been increased.
- Erie Street: from 19.5 feet to 24 feet
- McClurg Court: 9.5 feet to 17.5 feet.
- Ontario Street: From 9.5 feet to 15.5 feet.
- Public seating spaces in the planters (possibly similar to the ones on Wacker Drive).
- A sort of micro-park at the corner of McClurg and Ontario.
- The entire building has been moved four feet to the west, away from McClurg Court.
- Loading dock operations will be prohibited during rush hours, and the vast majority of deliveries will happen during the overnight hours.
- The number of parking spaces has been reduced from 850 to 750 spaces.
That parking figure is one of the few serious bones of contention with this project. Broadly speaking, the more parking spaces you build in a downtown Chicago project, the more cars will fill them up. 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly didn’t used to believe this, but has since decided that parking is one of those “if you build it, they will come” amenities. Unfortunately, transit options in this corner of the Gold Coast, bordering Streeterville, are somewhat poor unless your destination is the south side.
For its part, the Institute maintains that it needs 750 parking spaces because it’s an unusual operation. People stay longer at the RIC than they do at other hospitals, and 750 is the bare minimum it needs to get by. To back this up, it pledges not to allow public parking in the building.