▶ 📹 Children’s Hospital Redevelopment Passes One Green, but Caution Flags Abound

After months of angst, anger, and bewilderment there is finally some real forward movement in the redevelopment of the former Children’s Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park.

In a marathon session at City Hall yesterday, the Chicago Plan Commission heard from dozens of neighbors weighing in on the project that would turn the empty hospital into a $350 million residential, commercial, and retail complex, designed by Joe Auntonovitch. You can see an Auntonovitch Associates animation of the project in the video above.

Drawing of Children's Memorial Hospital redevelopment plan. Courtesy of McCaffrey Interests

Drawing of Children’s Memorial Hospital redevelopment plan. Courtesy of McCaffrey Interests

Reading the Chicago neighborhood blogs, you’d get the impression that everyone in Lincoln Park is against the redevelopment. But according to our reporter at the meeting, of the 125 or so “stakeholders” in attendance, the people in favor and the people against were pretty evenly split.

Naysayers were divided into two camps: Those who objected to the actual project, usually the height of a pair of apartment towers; and those complaining about a perceived lack of transparency in the civic process.

People speaking in favor of the project were happy to not have a giant, empty hulk of an abandoned hospital rotting in such a prominent location in the neighborhood. The hospital moved to Streeterville two years ago, and locals say the immediate area surrounding the hospital has become moribund. McCaffery predicts its plan would have, “[a] total economic impact of $3.5 billion, and would create as many as 2,500 construction jobs, 250 permanent jobs and $122 million in tax revenue.”

The Plan Commission sided with the redevelopment group, McCaffery Interests, and approved the two apartment towers, each with 270 residences. In addition to the 19-story skyscrapers, the project includes a parking garage, 60 condominiums, 156 rooms of senior housing, and 160,000 square feet of retail space.

Diagram of Children's Memorial Hospital redevelopment plan

Diagram of Children’s Memorial Hospital redevelopment plan

This is actually a much smaller version of the project, which has seen multiple iterations over the years.  In the current redevelopment diagram, an apartment building next to the parking garage has been replaced with retail space.

Ordinarily we would predict that this project is going to be built, because the Chicago Tribune notes that it has the support of 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith. In the usual course of Chicago politics, once the alderman and the Plan Commission are on board, it’s smooth sailing.

But not with this project.

Other ideas for the redevelopment of Children’s hospital has been this far, and even farther, before and still died because naysayers in Lincoln Park have both the money and the time to wage court challenges in ways that people in most other Chicago neighborhoods don’t.

So instead of predicting a direct route through City Council to groundbreaking, we predict this will see a judge’s gavel before it sees a shovel in the dirt.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be the Chicago Architecture Blog without the deets:

  • Site area: 262,963 square feet
  • Maximum height: 190 feet, eight inches
  • Tower size: 19 stories
  • Retail space: 162,596 square feet
  • Apartments: 544
  • Condominiums: 30 to 60
  • Senior Housing: 156 SRO units
  • Parking: 1,044 spaces
  • LEED goal: Silver
  • Green roof: 50%
  • Open space: 57,153 square feet
Chicago Architecture Blog reporter Mary Chmielewicz contributed to this report.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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