If you’ve been wondering why things have been so quiet between Roosevelt Road and Chinatown, it turns out things have been going on behind the scenes. Big things.
Tomorrow morning, Governor Bruce Rauner will announce a public-private partnership that will turn the 62-acre site owned by Related Midwest into a massive collegiate research park. The academics involved in “The 78” innovation center are the University of Illinois, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University. The term “The 78” comes from the notion that this will become Chicago’s 78th neighborhood.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the new campus will have upwards of 2,000 people — 90 faculty, 1,800 students, plus support staff. The total cost of the facility is expected to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Part of it from the sale of the Thompson Center downtown.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that the folks downstate decided that Chicago needed some Urbana-Champain love. The last time was in the mid-1960’s when most of the city’s Little Italy neighborhood was bulldozed to make way for U.I.C.’s brutalist monstrosities that are only just now starting to not look terrible since we’ve gotten used to seeing them for half a century.
This time, though, the land donor is a willing participant. And we mean “donor” in every sense. The Trib reports that Related will donate the land to the institutions.
We’re not exactly sure what Related gets out of this deal. Tax breaks, perhaps? Or perhaps Related will hold on to some of the land in the project, thus guaranteeing demand for housing and office space for the next hundred years or so. We’ll know more after 10:00am.