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New Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Discussed at Community Meeting

 A rendering of the proposed new Rehabilitation Institute at 630 N. McClurg Court.
A rendering of the proposed new Rehabilitation Institute at 630 N. McClurg Court.
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STREETERVILLE — Before the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago can build a new $523 million facility at 630 N. McClurg Court, two blocks from the current building, the hospital rehabbed its construction plans at the request of Streeterville residents.

Representatives from the top-ranked rehabilitation hospital addressed Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), Streeterville Organization of Active Residents representatives and concerned community members Monday night to present revised construction plans after the preliminary public meeting Nov. 19. 

Changes to the original proposal include a reduction in parking spaces from the originally proposed 830 down to 750, and a reduction of 30 patient beds. 

The laundry list of resident complaints over issues including pedestrian safety and neighborhood contributions from the November meeting will improve the finished product, Ed Case, treasurer of the institute board, said at Monday's meeting at the current facility at 345 E. Superior St. 

"Many of the things requested" including widening McClurg Court, Erie Street and Ontario Street, and limiting delivery hours to late night and early morning, "actually ended up with an improved design," Case said. 

Changes proposed Monday in response to Streeterville residents' concerns also include adding a small "pocket park" at the southwest corner of Ontario Street, expanding the glass facade facing McClurg Court, and narrowing of the tower's footprint in response to cosmetic objections from area residents. 

The new layout will allow for sidewalks on the surrounding streets to widen by five to eight inches in response to surveys conducted by the Chicago Department of Transportation and an independent traffic study.

The institute also agreed to chip in for infrastructure improvements including traffic signal improvements and transitioning McClurg Court into a two-way street. 

The hospital will reconvene with area residents again before construction begins, something President and CEO Joanne Smith said the nonprofit is happy to do. 

"We've been with you in this neighborhood for more than 60 years," Smith said. "We love being a part of this neighborhood. We feel like a community member, just like you."

Smith justified the expansion as a necessary growth, citing the massive growth in demand that forced the facility to turn away 600 patients last year on top of a 20 percent increase in daily patients since 2006. 

The Illinois Health Facilities Planning and Services Review Board approved the planned expansion on Feb. 5, Smith said Monday. 

The institute, named the top rehab hospital in the country by U.S. News and World Report for more than 20 years, gained additional media attention recently for treating U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) after he suffered a stroke in January 2012.