DOUGLAS — Plans for the first phase of the Michael Reese Hospital redevelopment aren’t set it stone, but they’re “being mixed in the mortar…beginning to set,” Ald. Sophia King (4th) told residents Wednesday evening.
At a virtual meeting, King, developers and city officials detailed plans for the $3.8 billion project, which is slated to include mixed-income residential units, a new Metra station, parkland, senior housing, and medical facilities anchored by Israel-based Sheba Medical Center.
The first phase, estimated to cost $600 million, could break ground next fall and would bring 1.35 million square feet of retail and office space, 300 units of senior housing, a new data center and a Bronzeville Welcoming Center, to the south end of the development.
The developers, led by Farpoint Development, submitted a Planned Development application to City Council in June that outlines building height and density at the site as well as the location of open space.
On Wednesday, city officials said the proposed Planned Development boundaries’ were expanded to include the Prairie Shores apartments — also co-owned by Farpoint Development with Golub & Company — giving the developer control of a broad swath of the land bound by McCormick Place to the north, the marshalling yards along the South Lakefront to the east, 31st Street to the south and Martin Luther King Drive to the west.
“The inclusion of Prairie Shores would facilitate implementation of the proposed street grid, which would improve traffic circulation and parking configurations for both properties,” said Peter Strazzabosco, spokesman for the city’s planning department.
The developer has committed to setting aside 20 percent of future residential units for on-site affordable housing, aims to “achieve 65 percent minority-led business participation within the project” and would provide $25 million towards a public school if the need arises, leaders said Wednesday.
The plan must first be approved by the Chicago Plan Commission, which could vote on it as early as next month, city officials said Wednesday. If approved, the application would be sent to the City Council’s Committee of Zoning and then on to the full City Council for a vote, possibly by the end of the year.
With a maximum building height of 350 feet, the developers promised buildings that would adhere to the character of the surrounding neighborhood. The Singer Pavilion, the only remaining structure of the former hospital, would be preserved and restored to “honor the history of the Michael Reese Hospital.”
The $3 billion second phase would bring retail, commercial space and housing to the area. Most of the housing would be market rate and 20 percent would be set aside for on-site affordable housing. The project could take 20 years to complete.
Reiterating an earlier commitment, King promised a casino would not be included in the plans.
But, with the project heading for a City Council vote by the end of the year, city officials have yet to confirm if the public will pay for infrastructure improvements at the site — and at what cost.
A separate contract between the developer and the city, known as a redevelopment agreement, would govern the sale of city owned property, the cost of itemized projects within the development and what share of the cost will be covered by taxpayers. That agreement is expected to be introduced in the first quarter of 2021, officials said.
City officials have said the city is considering the developers’ request to use Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, to pay for necessary infrastructure improvements to support the site, but no decision has been made. The site resides inside the Bronzeville TIF District, meaning the City Council would not need to approve a new district.
At an earlier meeting, Cindy Roubik of the planning department said $31 million in TIF funding had been allotted to clean up contaminated soil on the north end of the site, the former home to a radium processing facility.
The planning department did not immediately respond to questions on the amount of anticipated TIF funds dedicated to the project or when the city will determine if the public spending is appropriate.
Another community meeting will be held ahead of the project being voted on by City Council, King said.
Additional details can be found on a website the city created for the project.
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