CHICAGO — The $3.8 billion mega-development slated to transform the former Michael Reese Hospital campus into a cluster of commercial, residential and health care buildings is set for a key city vote Thursday.
The project headlines Thursday’s meeting of the Chicago Plan Commission. The commission will also consider plans for a 50-foot building at the The Fields development, an update to the Fulton Market Innovation District, a two-tower residential and hotel development in The Loop, a new elementary school in Belmont Cragin and a 59-unit residential building in Edgewater.
City leaders have long eyed redeveloping the Michael Reese site in Douglas, once proposed as the 2016 Olympic Village under former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
In October, the Michael Reese development team, led by Farpoint Development, introduced updated plans that expanded the footprint of the zoning district to include the adjacent Prairie Shores homes, co-owned by Farpoint and Golub & Company.
The project’s 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 property.
A $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.
At the community meeting, local Ald. Sophia King (4th) reiterated her promise that a casino is not being considered for the site.
At a meeting last year, Cindy Roubik of the city’s planning department said $31 million in tax-increment financing (TIF) funding had been allotted to clean up contaminated soil on the north end of the site, which was formerly home to a radium processing facility between 26th and 27th streets.
If approved by the Plan Commission, the Michael Reese project will next head to the Committee on Zoning and the full City Council for consideration.
The Fields Redevelopment
A plan to redevelop parts of The Fields campus on the Logan Square/Avondale border include adding a 50-foot tall building and a film production studio to the cluster of warehouses already on the site. The inclusion of the 50-foot building requires Plan Commission approval.
The Fields site, 4000 W. Diversey Ave., has been redeveloped in recent years to include a mix of loft apartments, offices and a Cermak Fresh Market grocery store.
A coalition of community groups created a petition saying there’s been an “egregious lack of transparency” around the film studio plan, but others in the area support it.
“A vote is set to take place on Feb. 18 that will impact our neighborhoods for decades, yet Latinx residents just across the street from the site have recently told us they were not made aware,” local leaders wrote.
The organizations that signed The Fields petition include the Center for Changing Lives, Chicago Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA), Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA), Northwest Side Community Development Corporation and Northwest Side Housing Center.
Fulton Market Plan Update
An update to the Fulton Market Innovation District, including lifting a ban on new residential development north of Lake Street to guide transportation and development within a 217-acre zone, will also be considered.
The update is meant to address the increase in residential population in the area that has seen significant growth over the last decade, including 43 Planned Developments built or under construction since the Innovation District was first approved in 2014.
Immediate infrastructure priorities include at-grade Metra crossing improvements, adding Divvy stations and addressing ADA concerns over sidewalks and crosswalks in the district.
Bike lanes could be included in the future, but Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) said in January adding bike lanes to Hubbard Street is “going to be a challenge.”
Downtown Towers, Belmont Cragin School
Two 23-story and 36-story connected towers would be built at 525 S. Wabash Ave. in the 42nd Ward under a Planned Development application submitted by Eterra Plus llc. The towers would bring 777 residential units, 314 hotel rooms and 42,000 square feet of commercial space to the area.
A six-story, 59-unit residential building with 59 parking spaces is proposed in Edgewater, 5950 N. Sheridan Road, on an empty lot in the 48th ward.
A new Belmont Cragin Elementary School is proposed at 6110 W. Fullerton Ave. in the 30th ward in the southeast corner of Riis Park, owned by the Chicago Park District. The existing park fieldhouse would remain.
Friends of the Parks, a community group focused on preserving land in the Park District, filed a letter with the Plan Commission opposed to the new school being built within Riis Park, but the letter says the group will not file legal action against the Park District or Chicago Public Schools to block it.
“Though our opinion on that issue has not changed, we have chosen to engage the Belmont Cragin school advocates in a partnership relationship to pursue the creation of 3.3 acres of replacement park land for the community somewhere very close by in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood,” the letter states.
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