The Chicago Park District is planning to move its headquarters from downtown to Brighton Park, the mayor’s office announced Friday.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital will take over the current Park District headquarters building at 541 N. Fairbanks when the district moves its operations to 4800 S. Western Ave. The move will relocate some 200 existing Park District jobs to Brighton Park.
In addition to an administrative building, the new location will also feature a field house, playground and spray pool and three artificial turf fields. The proposed 17-acre space would bring much needed open space to Brighton Park, one of the top five park-deficient communities in Chicago, officials said.
“The impact on the community will be noticeable,” said Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th), whose office is in Brighton Park. “This piece of property we’re talking about has been vacant and overgrown for quite some time. To be able to have over 17 acres repurposed into a family-friendly space … is phenomenal.”
The Park District sold its Streeterville property to Northwestern Memorial in 2015 for $22.5 million, but it negotiated a rent-free lease that expired in April. Although the district is currently paying to rent the building, city officials said that original deal saved the city $3 million. The $8.65 million land purchase is expected to be approved by the Park District Board next week, officials said.
“The development of the Brighton Park site for the Chicago Park District headquarters is a win-win situation for the District and the community,” Park District Supt. Michael P. Kelly said in a statement. “In addition to the efficiencies of owning our headquarters, we are bringing much needed parkland and amenities to the children and families of this community.”
If approved, the Park District said it will put out a request for proposals to design, build and finance the new headquarters in the coming months. The release said “environmental issues of the site will be addressed” when the property is developed, although the statement did not give further details on what that will entail.
Other city facilities have been relocated to the South Side as well. In January, City Colleges of Chicago moved the majority of staff at its downtown headquarters to Kennedy-King College in Englewood and Dawson Technical Institute in Bronzeville. In August 2016, the mayor announced the Chicago Department of Fleet and Facility management would relocate from 1685 N. Throop St. to Englewood.
Lopez is excited about the potential “economic ancillary boom” to the community with the arrival of hundreds of Park District workers.
“Those 200 individuals will need restaurants, stores, all the things mom-and-pop businesses will be able to provide,” Lopez said. “We’ll be able to see that kind of economic opportunity immediately.”