City to net $16.3M from Blackhawks practice facility, Rush expansion project

SHARE City to net $16.3M from Blackhawks practice facility, Rush expansion project
SHARE City to net $16.3M from Blackhawks practice facility, Rush expansion project

Cash-strapped Chicago will net $16.3 million from the deal that will bring a Blackhawks practice facility and new academic buildings for Rush University Medical Center to the site of the soon-to-be-demolished Malcolm X College.

After playing it cagey for days, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration finally came clean with the fine print of an agreement that, City Hall insists, is a good deal for Chicago taxpayers and a boon for the Near West Side.

Together, the team and the hospital will pay $26.7 million for the 11-acre site at 1900 W. Van Buren, including 4 acres for the Hawks and 7 acres for Rush.

But only $24.3 million of that money will be paid in cash. The rest will be a credit for “community benefits” provided by both parties.

City Hall also put an $8 million price tag on the city’s cost to demolish the old Malcolm X and prepare the site for construction. That leaves Chicago taxpayers with a bottom line of $16.3 million from the deal.

Mayoral spokeswoman Elizabeth Langsdorf said the $26.7 million price tag matches the value placed on the 486,526 square feet of land by the city’s third-party appraiser.

But the appraiser’s price of $55 per square foot was for a “clean site” after demolition. The Hawks and Rush will end up paying $50 per square foot after the city’s demolition and site preparation costs are deducted.

It was not known how the city arrived at the $2.5 million value placed on “community benefits.”

The Hawks’ contribution to that figure stems from the practice facility having two ice rinks instead of one.

That’ll be enough to accommodate the explosion of youth hockey in Chicago triggered by the Hawks’ three Stanley Cup championships in the last six seasons and still allow Blackhawks Charities to oversee year-round programs and clinics for underprivileged youths.

At a news conference last week, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz said a single rink would have been enough to meet the practice needs of the Stanley Cup champs and still accommodate “a little bit” of community involvement. But it takes two rinks to make a bigger splash.

“We went to the mayor . . . and we said we want to do something really special on the West Side. This has been our home . . . about 80 years,” Wirtz said.

“Kids can’t learn to skate if there’s not any ice. . . . The best compliment we could ever have is if someone came out of this community and [could] be in the National Hockey League.”

As for the hospital’s contribution to community benefits, it’s not clear whether that’s a reference to something new or to the ongoing partnership between Rush and Malcolm X, which is moving into a $251 million facility to train students for careers in health care.

At the news conference last week, Emanuel said he was plenty pleased with what Rush CEO Dr. Larry Goodman was already doing for Malcolm X.

“Larry’s got a lot of responsibilities at the hospital. He doesn’t have to take on being the head of Malcolm X’s `College-to-Careers’ program in the sense of making sure that all of the health care facilities and all the curriculum and all the training is done in alignment with where health care is going 10, 15 years from now,” the mayor said.

Chicago needs every dollar it can get to solve the $30 billion pension crisis that has dropped the city’s bond rating to junk status.

That’s apparently why Emanuel was so skittish about revealing the fine print of the Malcolm X deal.

Chicagoans will now have to make their own judgment on whether the mayor is following through on the promise he made last week.

“There is no public support, financial support for this endeavor. They’ll be paying market rate for the facility. Our job as a city will to obviously make the land available, which means taking down the old Malcolm X,” Emanuel said then.

“The net result will be resources that will come back to the city. . . . When you’re done with demolition of the facility, with them paying market rate, there’ll be additional resources for the city. . . . It’ll be a net gain for the city from a financial standpoint — not even counting what they’re gonna be doing in the sense of community work.”

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