City Council to vote on sale of former Michael Reese Hospital site Wednesday

A plan years in the making to build a $4 billion multi-use development at the site of the former Michael Reese Hospital campus on the South Side is one step closer to becoming a reality.

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A plan years in the making for a $4 billion multi-use development at the site of the former Michael Reese Hospital campus on the South Side was approved by the Chicago City Council on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.

A plan years in the making to build a $4 billion multi-use development at the site of the former Michael Reese Hospital campus on the South Side is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Farpoint Development

A plan years in the making to build a $4 billion multi-use development at the site of the former Michael Reese Hospital campus on the South Side is two steps closer to becoming a reality.

The City Council’s Zoning Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved the proposal for the “Bronzeville Lakefront” project, which aims to turn a 48.6-acre vacant lot into a bustling community area with affordable housing and ample commercial uses. Shortly after, the Housing and Real Estate Committee recommended the approval of the partial sale of the South Side property to GRIT Chicago LLC.

The City Council is set to vote on the sale Wednesday.

These are the latest major breakthroughs in the redevelopment project that will fill the site of the former Michael Reese Hospital, which has remained largely untouched for more than a decade.

Chicago bought the space — which runs from 26th to 31st streets, between Lake Park and Vernon avenues — after it closed in 2008, intending to use the property to create an Olympic Village as part of the city’s unsuccessful bid for the 2016 Summer Games.

The City Council’s Finance Committee on Monday agreed to designate $60 million from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $3.7 billion capital plan to build city streets, a new park and other infrastructure needed to pave the way for the massive redevelopment.

Local Ald. Sophia King (4th) said the Bronzeville Lakefront project was designed with the community in mind.

The multiphase plan includes 10,000 linear feet of new and improved roadways along with two acres of park space. A welcome center, a senior housing building, data center and Singer Pavilion are also included in the project’s blueprints.

Twenty-percent of the residential units are being dedicated to affordable housing

“That’s a big accomplishment that the community wanted,” King said. “... We wanted to make sure that future residents weren’t priced out of the neighborhood.”

The redevelopment will provide “economic stimulus” and remove a large vacant lot off the city’s tax rolls, according to King, who also said the project will bring short- and long-term jobs to the community.

“This will be a sustainable development, including residential, retail, commercial space that’s going to impact the entire city, probably the world honestly,” King said.

Deputy Planning and Development Commissioner Tim Jeffries estimated the site could draw $3.1 billion in new tax revenue and could bring more than 9,900 full-time jobs to the community.

GRIT Chicago LLC also committed to investing $25 million into neighborhood schools.

Jeffries noted the Bronzeville Lakefront project is “the largest and only multibillion dollar private project plan in a minority community.” He said it was developed with inclusivity in mind and with the goal of delivering “clear and significant benefits” to the neighborhood’s residents.

“The Bronzeville Lakefront project represents a... symbolic and critical investment in the city as we emerged from the COVID 19 pandemic,” Jeffries said. “It demonstrates that Chicago is ready to lead the nation in our recovery effort, and that the city has the ability to attract development, jobs, and an investment of this scale in an increasingly and extremely competitive global market.”

Before the zoning plan was approved, several aldermen applauded King’s efforts over the last few years. Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd) called it “a yeoman’s job” and longtime Ald. Carrie M. Austin (34th) said King had “done the work of at least 10 aldermen.”

“This has been a big project that we’re all proud of, proud of you,” Austin added.

In total, the project could take up to 20 years to complete.

Contributing: Fran Spielman

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