LINCOLN PARK — Although the meeting to discuss redevelopment plans for the Children's Memorial Hospital site has been pushed back a second time, there is optimism that community concerns will be addressed.
McCaffery Interests are expected to present their plans for the site at the new date on Jan. 14, having again asked for more time to complete the revised proposal, according to Ald. Michele Smith (43rd).
"We have gotten an enormous amount of community input so far," Smith said. "I expect them to respond to the concerns that the community had about height, density and traffic."
It has been nearly 1-1/2 years since the last community meeting when McCaffery Interests presented scaled-back plans for the site.
Smith's office will be without Matt Rich, the 43rd Ward's director of zoning and urban development, who recently left his position to join a law firm.
Rich was the alderman's point man for the Children's Memorial Hospital redevelopment project, according to Smith, but his departure won't slow down the project.
"We are looking for a successor, but in the interim other people in the office are covering for Matt and I've always been deeply involved," Smith said. "Matt had that role, but he left us in good stead as to the status of his projects and we will have a successor soon."
Smith said Rich's departure had nothing to do with either the Children's Memorial site nor the other major development on the block at Halsted and Willow.
There has been concern in the business community over the lack of progress on the site, according to Padraic Swanton, director of communications and marketing for the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce.
In the waiting period to see plans for the site, the chamber has been circulating data from an economic impact study conducted back in 2011 and promoting the #MoveChildrensForward hashtag on social media.
"The first time a date was proposed maybe it was a little ambitious, but now that it's been pushed back twice we are really trying to keep it in the forefront of people's minds," Swanton said.
A study conducted by Children's Memorial Hospital estimated the redevelopment would have a $3.5 billion total economic impact and create 200 permanent jobs and $122 million in new city taxes.
Still Swanton emphasizes the project is years away from completion no matter how many weeks the meetings are pushed back.
"It's not just you approve it and all the sudden the economy turns around," he said.
The first phase of the project is expected to take 2-1/2 years to complete, Swanton said.
The community meeting with McCaffery Interests and Ald. Smith is set for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14 in DePaul University's student center, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave.