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Medical District Zoning Changes To Expand Development Get Committee Approval

The area could undergo a shift, from being primarily a medical district to becoming a "truly mixed-use neighborhood," a city official said.

Rush University Medical Center in the Illinois Medical District.
Rush Production Group
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MEDICAL DISTRICT — An effort to modernize the medical district on the Near West Side received key city approval from the Plan Commission Thursday.

The proposal by Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) and Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) to update zoning regulations for the Illinois Medical District planned development would allow expansion of permitted uses.

That likely would open the door to mixed-use and large-scale residential developments.

In technical terms, the changes would update zoning from C1-2 to C2-5. In practical terms, that would allow for the expansion of mixed-use development in the area bound by Congress Parkway, Ashland Avenue, Paulina Street, 15th Street, Wood Street, 14th Street and Damen Avenue.  

The area hasn’t seen many zoning changes in recent decades. This would be the first amendment since 1997 to the area formally known as Planned Development 30.

The changes would support the Medical District’s master planning priorities and support development trends on the Near West Side, said Brian Hacker of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development.

The amendments would make the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance and minority and women hiring standards applicable to the medical district.   

The 373-acre planned development area encompasses four major hospitals: Cook County, Rush, UIC and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. It also includes the University of Illinois medical school and hospital.  

City officials said existing regulations were “restrictive” and “vague.”

Under current regulations, the area faces challenges with land-use regulations that limit development to mostly medical, institutional and educational uses that do not support the trend toward mixed-use development, Hacker said.

The updating zoning regulations will help “facilitate greater investment and economic development in the Illinois Medical District,” Hacker said.

Department of Planning and Development Commissioner Maurice Cox said the approval would take the area from being a medical district to becoming “a truly mixed-use neighborhood.”

The proposal will move on to the Zoning Committee.

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