ARC Innovation Center in Chicago

February 23, 2021

Michael Reese development gains planners’ OK

A city commission enthusiastically backs zoning rules to govern the $3.8 billion project just south of McCormick Place.

A plan for a multidecade, $3.8 billion redevelopment of the former Michael Reese Hospital site won a key city approval Thursday amid praise for its economic impact and its respect for the surrounding community.

The approval by the Chicago Plan Commission bolsters hopes that construction on a first phase can start in a few months. But the overall project remains susceptible to changes in the market and specific buildings will require future public reviews.

In all, the zoning classification recommended for the South Side site near the lakefront allows for 7.8 million square feet in a mix of uses. It calls for 4,800 residential units, with the investor team led by Farpoint Development committing to setting aside 20% of them at reduced rents for people with moderate incomes.

The first phase would be anchored by Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, which plans a research facility called the ARC Innovation Center. Senior housing is included in the first phase, too, as well as a welcoming center for Bronzeville.

The construction would take place near the southern end of the roughly 52-acre property near 31st Street and Lake Park Avenue. A park also would be included, part of the nearly 10 acres of open space in the plan. The property is near McCormick Place and the Prairie Shores and Lake Meadows housing complexes.

The city has owned the former hospital site since 2009 when former Mayor Richard M. Daley agreed to buy it for $91 million as part of an unsuccessful attempt to get the 2016 Summer Olympics. The city has been paying interest on the deal ever since.

Plan commission members and aldermen praised the project’s design, which evolved over years of talks with community groups. Ald. Sophia King (4th) told the commission, “The tense discourse has made for a much better development.” Her ward includes the property.

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