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Cuneo Memorial Hospital Supporters Seek Landmark Status

 A developer has a plan to save the former Cuneo Memorial Hospital from the wrecker's ball.
Can Cuneo Be Saved
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UPTOWN —  Supporters of Cuneo Memorial Hospital filed an application with the city Monday in hopes that landmark status can keep the wrecking ball away from the vacant hospital.

Friends of Cuneo began a fight last winter to save architect Edo Belli's mid-century modern work, which is located in the Montrose/Clarendon Tax Increment Financing district, at the former site of Maryville Academy.

The group has failed to gain support from Ald. James Cappleman (46th) or JDL Development President James Letchinger. Letchinger has said he wants to tear Cuneo down as part of a $230 million plan to build luxury housing by the lakefront. His proposal includes a $32 million TIF fund request.

On Monday, Friends of Cuneo submitted an application to the Chicago Commission on Landmarks to save not just Cuneo, on the northeast corner of Clarendon and Montrose, but the entire Maryville Academy campus, which includes a brutalist addition to the hospital designed by Belli and built on the northwest corner in the 1970s.

All of Friends of Cuneo's prior preservation efforts centered on the original Cuneo structure, which first opened in 1957 as a hospital for women and children.

The group considers it an architectural gem from an award-winning architect who designed many acclaimed churches, schools and hospitals and helped breathe new life into architecture in Chicago.

Records show JDL received a demolition permit from the city in May to tear down Cuneo.

Green developer David Baum had an idea for a privately funded, artful reuse of the Cuneo property that included gallery space, artist studios, artist housing and a cafe. But Baum recently backed out of his plan since he could not access the property.

The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, who own the property and the rest of the Maryville campus, said they have an agreement to sell the property to Letchinger — on the condition that he secure the necessary zoning and other approvals from the city by September.

JDL is expected to bring a final proposal before community members in coming meetings of the 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee. The advisory group created by Cappleman typically meets the last Monday of each month. Before Baum entered the picture, the committee had voted in February to raze Cuneo and donate the land to the Chicago Park District.

Cappleman would have to give the plan final approval before it goes to the city.

For previous coverage of the fight to save Cuneo Memorial Hospital, click here.