The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

All's Quiet At The Old Children's Memorial Hospital Site ... But Why?

By Mina Bloom | December 30, 2015 5:46am | Updated on December 30, 2015 10:48am
 The former Children's Memorial Hospital site has sat vacant since 2012. Though the developer hoped to start demolition by the end of the year, the site was as quiet as ever during the final week of 2015.
The former Children's Memorial Hospital site has sat vacant since 2012. Though the developer hoped to start demolition by the end of the year, the site was as quiet as ever during the final week of 2015.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Mina Bloom

LINCOLN PARK — Those who live and work in Lincoln Park might have noticed there's still no activity at the former Children's Memorial Hospital site, which has sat vacant since the hospital moved to Streeterville in 2012.

McCaffrey Interests, the developer behind the long-stalled $350 million project set to replace the old hospital, had hoped to start construction by the end of the year. But the six-acre site of prime real estate at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue, Fullerton Parkway and Halsted Street has been as quiet as ever during the final week of 2015.

Dan McCaffrey, CEO and chairman for McCaffrey, told DNAinfo Chicago a lawsuit trying to stop the development filed by two neighborhood groups is just one reason among others that demolition hasn't started yet.

The suit, filed by Mid-North Association and Park West Community Association, was dismissed by a Cook County judge in January, but the neighbors appealed and expect the appeal process to last through the end of the year.

"There's a series of reasons," McCaffrey said of the demolition delay. "There is a lawsuit. We're in a position of being somewhat courteous and cautious, minding our ps and qs, and not doing things that are silly," he said.

McCaffrey's comments came after Denice Bocek, project manager for McCaffrey, blamed the lawsuit for the delay.

"We would have liked to start a long time ago, but there has been an issue or two created by the lawsuit," Bocek said 

While the construction process may be a "little ways away," McCaffrey said the development process is fully underway.

"We are fully engaged in the development process, but we are not yet engaged in the construction process," he said.

He explained that his company and its partner on the project — Houston-based Hines — are currently working on developing engineering drawings and demolition studies, arranging pre-leasing agreements and trying to sell a portion of the property to a senior housing developer, which McCaffrey called a "very important" piece of the project, among other tasks, he said.

"It's in full gear. We meet every single week on this project," he said, adding that he's "hopeful that this [process] won't take a crazy amount of time."

McCaffrey said getting everything right is important, considering the size of the project.

"It's a huge project. It's not like someone's announcing, 'I'm going to do a 19-story apartment tower,' and away you go. This is going underground. There will be huge loading docks. There's engineering that's way more sophisticated."

The developer announced in June it was aiming to begin demolition by the end of the year to make way for the new mixed-use development that will include 540 apartments, up to 60 condominiums and 160,000 square feet of retail space. 


Even though McCaffrey won City Council approval in April of 2014, the developer still hadn't bought the site as of June, telling Crain's that it expected to close the deal by late 2015. At the time, McCaffrey was in the financing phase of the project and the team was in talks with lenders to secure a construction loan, according to the Crain's report.

As of late December, city records did not show a sale, and the Cook County Assessor still listed Lurie Children's Hospital as the property owner.

McCaffrey confirmed Wednesday morning that his company hasn't closed the deal yet.

"McCaffrey and Hines have been optioned to purchased the property. That was part of the original sale agreement, to have our time to get all of our ducks in a row before we closed on the land," he said.

He said the delay in closing isn't due to a lack of financing. 

"It's all part of the same thing, the development process," he said.

The deal is expected to be worth $50 million.

As for when to expect construction, McCaffrey said, "you're hopeful to do it sooner rather than later, but you do have to let the pieces fall into place."

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: