Developers aim for city OK on Michael Reese site this year

$3.5 billion project detailed for local residents at a virtual meeting.

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A rendering of the proposed research and innovation center to be anchored by Israel’s Sheba Medical Center

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Developers of the former Michael Reese Hospital site in Bronzeville said Monday night they hope to submit their zoning proposal to the City Council this month, with approval later this year of plans that they promised will create jobs and services while honoring the community’s heritage.

The timetable for the estimated $3.5 billion project was laid out to community residents at a Zoom meeting arranged by city planners and Ald. Sophia King (4th). The plans call for a mixed-use development on roughly 52 city-owned acres at 31st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue.

Scott Goodman, who is leading the project as a partner in Farpoint Development, said that if the city approves the zoning, he hopes construction can begin in the fall of 2021. The developers previously have announced that Israel’s Sheba Medical Center will anchor a 500,000-square-foot research and innovation center proposed for the first phase.

Goodman said that in conversations with the city and the neighborhood, the developers have agreed that 65% of all businesses involved in the site must be minority-owned, creating opportunities for work and investment in Bronzeville. “We think we are on the right side of history on this project,” he said.

An overall height limit of 400 feet would apply to the buildings. Plans allow for a community center and about nine acres of new parks. The Singer Pavilion, the last structure that remains from the old Reese campus, would be incorporated into the development.

Cynthia Roubik, assistant commissioner at the Department of Planning and Development, said the project could receive $31 million in subsidies from the tax increment financing program. She said most of the money would be used for environmental cleanup at the northern end of the site, near 26th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, where a radium processing plant operated in the early 1900s.

The development team and a local advisory council for the project fielded questions that community members submitted in advance. The virtual session was an experiment in whether local hearings, a part of the city’s zoning process, could take place during a pandemic.

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