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Michael Reese Site To Become Housing, Hotel, Tech Space; Developer Picked

By Sam Cholke | June 2, 2017 8:28am | Updated on June 5, 2017 8:42am
 The development team chosen for the Michael Reese site is planning tech, housing and a hotel. Looking to the west, the rendering shows what could happen to the 77-acre property, which includes the former hospital's site and also parking lots used by McCormick Place.
The development team chosen for the Michael Reese site is planning tech, housing and a hotel. Looking to the west, the rendering shows what could happen to the 77-acre property, which includes the former hospital's site and also parking lots used by McCormick Place.
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Courtesy of the Mayor's Office

BRONZEVILLE — The city has chosen a development team that is expected to buy the Michael Reese Hospital site for $144.4 million and build homes, tech-oriented commercial space and a hotel.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to announce Friday that a team that includes Farpoint Development, Draper and Kramer, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, McLaurin Development Partners and Bronzeville Community Development Partnership has been chosen to redevelop the site.

“After sitting vacant for nearly a decade, today we are taking a major step toward the transformation and revitalization of the Michael Reese site,” Emanuel said in a statement. “Over the next 10 years this team will work with the community and the city to deliver a once-in-a-lifetime redevelopment that will generate economic opportunities and growth in Bronzeville and in neighborhoods throughout the city of Chicago.”

The entire plan will still need to be approved by the city and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which is contributing air rights over McCormick Place’s truck marshaling yards to the deal.

The project covers 77 acres, including the truck marshaling yards, which were never part of the Michael Reese site. The hospital covered 49 of those acres, between 22nd and 31st streets and Vernon and Lake Park. The marshaling yards cover 28 acres between Interstate 55 and 31st Street and between the Metra Electric train tracks and Lake Shore Drive.

Initial phases are expected to include a logistics center for McCormick Place’s truck traffic and a new event and meeting space. Later phases will include housing, tech space, a hotel and other mixed-use developments.

Scott Goodman, principal for Farpoint, said he expects the project to start with McCormick Place's truck marshaling yards on the eastern edge of the site, sorting out the transportation logistics for the convention center and its other needs that could be met on the site.

Goodman is the co-founder of Sterling Bay, the developer that lured Google to Fulton Market and has had a hand in a lot of the growth in the West Loop.

Other partners on the project said they expected Goodman to head in that same direction with an initial focus on building mostly new office space, complemented by some retail and residential.

The 49-acre site has been vacant since the city bought the hospital for $91 million in 2009 in anticipation of its bid for the 2016 Olympics. The city has been paying off the debt on the property since and likely will continue to for much of the 10 years the project is expected to take.

David Reifman, commissioner of the city's Department of Planning and Development, said the site will be sold in sections, rather than in one big package.

"We want to be in a position where we can continue to steward this along," Reifman said.

He said a casino is not part of the discussions because the city does not have the agreement of the state to move on the required licenses.

Though the full plan is still in development, early estimates suggest the project could create up to 24,000 permanent jobs and 12,000 construction jobs, with $520 million in property taxes generated over the next 20 years.

The plan also is expected to include a new park, a new Metra station at 31st Street, a rebuilt Cottage Grove Avenue and improved connections to the lakefront.