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Scaled-Back Plans for Children's Memorial Site Revealed

By Paul Biasco | December 19, 2013 2:42pm | Updated on December 19, 2013 3:39pm
 McCaffrey Interests revealed plans for the Children's Memorial redevelopment site Thursday.
McCaffrey Interests revealed plans for the Children's Memorial redevelopment site Thursday.
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McCaffery Interests

LINCOLN PARK — The company behind the Children's Memorial Hospital redevelopment released revised plans for the project Thursday that call for fewer residential units and shorter buildings than were originally proposed in 2012.

The major project, which could define the future of the neighborhood, has been hotly debated by both Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) and neighbors who demanded McCaffery Interests Inc. scale back the original proposal.

The new proposal was made available on the developer's website Thursday and is set to be discussed at a neighborhood meeting on Jan. 14.

The new proposal calls for 702 total residential units. Some 642 of those would be apartments, and  30 to 60 would be condos.

 A rendering of the main plaza as part of the Children's Memorial development site that would be built off Lincoln Avenue.
A rendering of the main plaza as part of the Children's Memorial development site that would be built off Lincoln Avenue.
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McCaffery Interests

The previous plan called for 996 total residential units at the site near the intersection of Fullerton Avenue, Lincoln Avenue and Halsted Street.

"I wouldn’t put something out that I didn’t think was right, so I'm hoping that this can be supported," said Dan McCaffery, chairman and CEO of McCaffery Interests. "We have worked very, very hard with this community."

A major sticking point raised by neighbors over the last year and half — the height of the apartment structures — also has been addressed, with the largest building being reduced from 27 stories to 19.

A second apartment building originally was proposed to be 24 stories, and will now be 19 stories, according to the new plan.

McCaffery said the new plans address every concern raised by the community in every "shape, make and form."

"Where we can't make changes is where we really can't make changes," he said. "Not because we don't want to."

The alderman said she asked McCaffery to release the plans "well in advance" of the upcoming community meeting to give ample time for community feedback.

Reached by phone Thursday, Smith declined comment on whether she supported the new plans.

"What counts is the consensus opinion in my ward," Smith said. "I know that my residents will study the plan very carefully and give it due consideration."

Smith said she will not make up her mind until after the Jan. 14 community meeting.

"My job is to push for the very best deal possible based on the feedback that we get wardwide and listen to what everyone else has to say," she said.

The proposal calls for creating 57,000 square feet of open space in the form of a central plaza and two garden areas.

A building at Fullerton Avenue and Orchard Street that was reserved for affordable housing in 2012 will instead be converted into senior housing with 156 rooms. And 10 percent of the units spread throughout the development will be "work force" housing, or affordable, according to Smith. 

The total square footage of retail space also was reduced from 164,500 square feet to 105,000 square feet.

The project, which had been held up for the last year and a half is expected to generate $122 million in tax dollars for the city over a 20-year period, according to a consultant's analysis.

That consultant's report assumed 75 percent of the residential units would be one-bedroom, 25 percent would be two-bedroom and 5 percent would be three-bedroom homes.

The project would create 2,500 construction and related jobs and 250 permanent jobs, according to the analysis.

The issue of overcrowding at nearby Lincoln Elementary school was the driving force behind Smith's delay of the project.

That hurdle was cleared Wednesday when the Board of Education approved an $18 million expansion of the school.

According to McCaffery's documents released Thursday, the Children's Memorial project is expected to house 71 school-aged children.

The new plans would move loading docks underground and include 850 parking spaces in a main garage, 97 parking spaces in the condominium building, and 97 spaces in the former Nellie Black building, which would be converted to senior housing.