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CHICAGO (CBS) — More than a decade after Michael Reese Hospital closed its doors, leaving behind a vacant 48-acre piece of property near the lakefront in Bronzeville, aldermen have signed off on a $3.8 billion plan to redevelop the site with 4,800 new homes, as well as a mix of offices, shops, and research facilities.
The city purchased the site for $91 million in 2009, with aims of using it as part of an Olympic village as it bid for the 2016 Olympics, but it has sat unused ever since, after the city lost the summer games to Rio de Janeiro.
On Wednesday, aldermen approved a redevelopment plan led by GRIT, LLC – a team of developers consisting of Farpoint Development, Loop Capital Management, McLaurin Development Partners, Draper & Kramer, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives and Bronzeville Community Development Partnership – to overhaul the site.
In three separate votes on Wednesday, aldermen authorized plans to sell 48 acres of city owned property to GRIT for $97 million; to authorize a zoning change needed for the site; and to spend $60 million in existing capital funding to rebuild or improve existing streets and parks in the area as part of the project.
GRIT’s $3.8 billion “Bronzeville Lakefront” plan for the site would include nearly 4,800 units of new housing, and nearly 8 million square feet of mixed-use space – including office, retail, research, healthcare, and data center facilities, as well as park space.
Ald. Sophia King (4th), whose ward is where the Bronzeville Lakefront project will be built, said it also will include a welcoming center and digital museum, which will honor the history of the Bronzeville community.
“This is a mega-development that will truly impact the entire city; and, of course, the Bronzeville and Douglas communities more specifically. While it will bring billions in economic development to the city and community, it will also bring other tangible investments,” she said.
The $600 million first phase of the project, expected to begin later this year, would involve construction of a new 500,000-square foot medical research site dubbed the ARC Innovation Center, which would feature both retail space and a community center; more than 300 units of senior housing, featuring solar panels, a rooftop deck, and retail and café space; and redevelopment of Singer Pavilion, the only remaining building from Reese Hospital.
The $3 billion second phase of the project would add additional medical research facilities, mixed-income housing, retail stores, office space, and park land that would be built over the next two decades. Construction on the second phase is expected to begin as early as 2023.
Since the developers are purchasing city-owned land for the project, at least 20% of the new housing they build must have reduced rents for people with lower incomes, or more than 1,300 affordable units.
Developers have said the project could create approximately $2 billion in property tax revenue over 20 years. It is also expected to create more than 2,800 temporary construction jobs and 1,200 permanent jobs.
According to published reports, in addition to the $60 million in infrastructure costs the city is picking up, the city also is on the hook for $30 million in clean-up costs from a hazardous waste plant that was once on the site.
In other business, the City Council approved:
- Plans for a new Boys & Girls Club facility to be built on the campus of the police and fire training academy already under construction in West Garfield Park. The $8 million youth development center will be the first new Boys & Girls Club in Chicago in more than a generation. According to the mayor’s office, the two-story, 18,000-square-foot facility will be part of the city’s new Joint Public Safety Training Campus now being built at 4443 W. Chicago Av. The project is being funded entirely by the Boys & Girls Club.
- A $1.2 million settlement with Tambrasha Hudson, whose 16-year-old son, Pierre Loury, was shot and killed by police in 2016. Police have said Pierre bailed out of a car involved in a shooting on the West Side, and officers shot him when he pointed a gun at them, but Hudson’s lawsuit claims her son was climbing a fence when he was shot.
- A $400,000 settlement with Jwan Yawer, who sued the city on behalf of her son Shwan Yawer, accusing police officers of beating her son and dragging him down a flight of stairs after they responded to a call of a robbery at his apartment in June 2014, ignoring his repeated pleas that he lived there and had done nothing wrong. Yawer suffered a serious head injury and a dislocated shoulder.
- A $300,000 settlement with an anonymous woman who accused a police officer of sexually assaulting her when she was only 14 years old in 2019. The officer, William Whitley, was later convicted of paying underage girls for sex, and is now serving a 25-year prison sentence.
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