Prentice Hospital preservationists: NU has enough land

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Preservationists trying to save the old Prentice Women’s Hospital in Streeterville released a report today saying Northwestern-related entities own 44 percent of the Near North Side neighborhood.

Their tally shows the “Northwestern family” owns 23 buildings on 25 acres of land in the area bounded by Pearson Street, Grand Avenue, Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive.

The Save Prentice Coalition, which includes includes AIA Chicago, DoCoMoMo, Landmarks Illinois, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Preservation Chicago, wants to save the building designed in the early 1970s by Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg.

The coalition defines the “Northwestern family” as Northwestern University, Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation and Northwestern Medicine.

In a press release, the Save Prentice Coalition said, “The goal .. is to show that Northwestern owns more than enough property to accommodate its stated needs, if only the institution would engage in thoughtful planning.”

Northwestern University says the building at 333 E. Superior can’t be adapted to modern uses and that it needs the land the building occupies for a new biomedical research facility. The university also says it can’t build on land it doesn’t own, even if it’s owned by another Northwestern-linked entity.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks could consider landmark status for the building as soon as Oct. 4.

Northwestern University spokesman Al Cubbage said Thursday, “Our position remains that the site is the linch pin for our biomedical research facilities.”

Northwestern plans to connect its new research facility “on a floor-by-floor basis” with existing facilities, which means keeping the old building and building elsewhere won’t work, Cubbage said.

“The only place we can do that is on the site of old Prentice,” he said.

The new facility will bring in about $400,000 million in economic impact and provide 2,000 full-time jobs, he said. As for vacant land across the street, Northwestern Memorial Hospital plans to build a new patient care facility there, he said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday he is trying to find common ground between the two sides.

Read Northwestern University’s facilities study report here.

Read the Save Prentice Facebook page here.

Read a Sept. 4 Sun-Times editorial here.

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