Posts tagged with "cook county":

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Old Cook County Hospital to be redeveloped

After 14 years of sitting empty, the Old Cook County Hospital in the Illinois Medical District may soon be redeveloped by Civic Health Development Group (CHDG), a team of developers, real estate investors, and builders. Selected through an RFP, the group plans to invest $600 million to transform the Beaux Arts structure into a mix of retail, hotel, and housing. CHDG will then pay $2 million in rent annually as part of a land lease agreement that will maintain the county’s ownership of the property.

Originally designed by Paul Gerhardt and Richard Schmidt, and constructed between 1913–1916, the hospital, with its three story ionic columns, is on the National Registry of Historic Places. If allowed to move forward, the first undertaking of the development will be to restore the building’s historic facade. The Cook County Board of Commissioners and Finance Committee are currently reviewing the project. If approved, the rehabilitation could start as early as this year, with a goal of completion in 2018. Currently, the redevelopment plan calls for four stages to include the rehabilitation of the existing hospital building, demolition of neighboring buildings, and the possible construction of a nine-story clinic and administration building. The Cook County website identifies Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill as the architects working with CHDG to design the redevelopment.

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Chicago’s Cook County Hospital could turn into a mixed-use complex

Built in 1914 and designed by architect Paul Gerhardt, the Cook County Hospital in Chicago is o the National Register of Historic Places. It's also laid dormant for over a decade, succumbing graffiti tagging and vandalism. Now Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has plans to redevelop the building with a hotel, apartments, and retail. As Hal Dardick writes in the Chicago Tribune, Cook County Hospital "was known, above all, as a place where society took care of those who could not otherwise afford medical care." It was brimming with civic pride, however, even lion and cherub decorations have not been able to fend off the pitfalls that comes with 13-years of neglect. Preckwinkle's plans to restore the building to its former glory, though not as a hospital, a function for which it's evidently obsolete. By transforming the building into a place for a hotel, apartments and retail, former hospital can at least be used and its Beaux Arts facade fully restored and appreciated (once again). The building would house 150 apartments, of which a fifth will be affordable housing. The plan relies on private funding, with Cook County Hospital being first on the list as part of a wider scheme that would see further developments across 16 acres of county-owned land. Other developments would include a technology and research center, medical office building, additional apartments, as well as another hotel which would be installed in the next 15 or so years. As for the hospital, developers are pressing to start next year, with the project complete by 2018. An estimated minimum of $550 million will be needed to see the scheme through. Despite the large amount of funds needed, the plan has been met with optimism. Bonnie McDonald, president of Landmarks Illinois and a historic preservationist who has seen past rehabilitation plans fall by the wayside, spoke of the project's promise. "I am confident that this is the best approach that has ever been forwarded and we will see a completed building at the end of the process," she said. Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele, who was born at Cook County Hospital, also spoke highly of the scheme. "I'm totally excited about it," he said. "I think it's the right thing for us to be doing. ... This one is going to work." Preckwinkle also appears to have the hospital's history at heart too. The developers Civic Health Development Group were selected due to their pedigree with historic renovations and plan to restore the facade. "They had the strongest proposal," Preckwinkle said, adding that they were "head and shoulders above the competition."
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Explore Chicago’s regional transportation network on this interactive website

How many people get on the train at your "El" or Metra stop each day? Which county's roads make for the roughest ride? How long do Chicago-area drivers while away waiting for train crossings? The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) just unveiled a new tool to stir discussion about transportation in the greater Chicago area that can answer all of those questions, as well as many more about the regional transportation system as a whole. CMAP planners said they hope the interactive website, which is full of clickable maps and tables compiled from mountains of public data, will resonate with policy makers as well as frustrated commuters. When it comes to transportation infrastructure, Chicago has an embarrassment of riches—and a wealth of problems. Some 25 percent of the nation's freight traffic travels through the region, but the seven-county region's 1,468 rail crossings snarl traffic for a total delay of 7,817 person-hours every day. In total traffic ate up more than $6 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2011 across the roughly 30,000 miles of roads in Cook, Lake, McHenry, Will, Kane, Kendall and DuPage Counties. As the authors of GO TO 2040, the 2010 comprehensive plan that sought to renew Daniel Burnham's regional vision, CMAP officials said they made the website to encourage more data-driven planning and regional policy. The website gives a mixed assessment of public transit in the region. While 71.5 percent of residents had at least moderate access to transit, progress on increasing that share of people has occurred at a slower rate so far than will be necessary to meet the 2040 goal of 78 percent, CMAP's analysis shows. Although Chicago lauds its growing open data culture, CMAP's Tom Garritano said arbitrary policies persist. For example Illinois' 55/45 rule, whereby 55 percent of highway funds typically go downstate, while only 45 percent stay in the Chicago region—despite the fact that more than two-thirds of the state's population and economic activity occurs in and around its largest city. “We believe strongly that the best decisions are driven by data,” said Garritano. “We want people to get excited about data.” While the website shows the region has made considerable progress on meeting GO TO 2040 goals in recent years, CMAP officials stressed that stats inflated with stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 may paint a rosier picture of transportation infrastructure's finances. CMAP pointed to the declining share of crumbling roads and bridges in the area—without continued funding for maintenance, they said, that progress would soon be overwhelmed by mounting infrastructure repair needs. More than half of non-highway roads in Cook County were judged less than “acceptable,” but that figure was less than 10 percent in McHenry and Kendall counties. More than 300 bridges in the Chicago area were deemed “structurally deficient” in 2013—a distinction CMAP pointed out does not mean they are necessarily dangerous, just below civil engineering standards. The total share of deficient bridges in the area was 9.7 percent, slightly below the national average of 11.1 percent. A section of the site named “Forward” links to a public-private fundraising campaign called FUND 2040. Last year CMAP called for a quarter-penny sales tax hike that would net $300 million per year for infrastructure work. “Metropolitan Chicago must compete globally against regions whose public investments have for decades far outpaced our own,” reads the site. “Current infrastructure funding mechanisms are simply not adequate to meet our region's infrastructure needs.” New spending, however needed, is politically risky in fiscally troubled Illinois, but CMAP's ideological influence recently got a boost in Springfield. The agency's executive director, Randy Blankenhorn, was recently appointed to head the Illinois Department of Transportation by incoming Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.
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Cook County mulls options for long-abandoned, beaux-arts hospital in Chicago

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle briefly took the lectern at the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) Tuesday night to welcome presentations on the future of an infamous white elephant structure on the city's near West Side: the old Cook County Hospital building. “We believe that this building has inherent value,” Preckwinkle said, “and that a thoughtful process like this can help unlock that value.” CAF asked the public through social media what they wanted to see on the site, which stands vacant in the Illinois Medical District along the Eisenhower Expressway. Apartments, affordable housing, and preservation of the 1914 structure scored highly among the 355 respondents of their informal survey. Although the building won recognition on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, its southern wings were demolished in 2008. Its ornate beaux-arts facade remains along the 1800 block of West Harrison Street, retaining a physical link to its storied place in medical history as the country's first blood bank and a haven for the city's booming immigrant population. CAF's Lynn Osmond called the redevelopment of Cook County Hospital “a win-win opportunity” for the public and potential developers. The team convened by CAF fleshed out two scenarios, which they said could be fully funded by a private developer. “Adaptive reuse will put 526 more people back to work than a new construction option,” Osmond said. Their plan called for first floor retail and either office or mixed-income residential development in the floors above. The office option totaled 243,000 square feet of office space at about $20 per square foot rent, leaving 31,000 square feet of retail on the first floor. The residential option called for 302 units, (25 percent of which would be reserved for affordable housing) and also kept retail on the first floor. Another plan by the Chicago Central Area Committee reached out beyond the walls of the hospital itself, proposing a campus-scale redevelopment of the immediate area with new transit hubs, programmed park space and the construction of office and hotel towers nearby. You can view each team's presentation and read more about the hospital's redevelopment here. The County says it intends to issue RFPs for redevelopment of the area in “fall 2014.”
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“Transit Future” Wish List Tantalizes Chicago Commuters with $20 Billion in Improvements

Here’s something to meditate on the next time you see three Chicago Transit Authority buses leapfrogging one another on a crowded street, or have to shell out for a cab because the trains won’t get you where you want to go on time: a grand proposal called "Transit Future" that seeks to improve the way Chicagoans get around the region. Imagine a South Lakefront line that connects the South Side to the Loop, running through the University of Chicago campus and South Shore. Or a “West Side Red Line” dubbed the Lime Line that would run along Cicero Avenue, connecting the Blue, Green, Pink and Orange Lines, before jogging East and connecting to the Red Line at 87th Street. Or how about a Brown Line extension connecting the North Side to O’Hare International Airport. Those are just some of the recommendations in the “Transit Future” plan unveiled last week by the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Active Transportation Alliance, two longtime advocates of sustainable development and alternative transit in the Chicago region. The plans also include a bus rapid transit line along Ashland avenue—a work-in-progress that proponents say will energize commerce along the corridor, but detractors say will clog streets—and an extended Red Line that could relieve pressure on the overburdened 95th Street station, which is slated for renovation. Great, you’re thinking, but it will never happen. Transit Future’s backers say the $20 billion wish list could become a reality if Cook County Board officials “create a robust local revenue stream…[that] will open the door to federal and other financing tools that will pay for the rest.” They point out Los Angeles residents voted in 2008 to raise their county’s sales tax by one half-cent, authorizing $40 billion in new revenue for transit lines over 30 years. That measure passed with nearly 68 percent of the vote. Head over to Transit Future's sleek website to read more about the project. Or check out WBEZ's The Afternoon Shift show that discussed the proposal with CNT’s Jacky Grimshaw Wednesday: