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$108M plan to re-develop Old Cook Co. Hospital OK'd

Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa Donovan

Old Cook County Hospital, is showing signs of new life.

Today, county commissioners OK’d a nearly $108 million re-development plan, first reported by the Sun-Times, to convert the shuttered facility into offices for hospital administrators. That staff will move from the old nurses dormitory at 1900 W. Polk, which is slated for demolition.

The county will put up $5 million, seek $24.2 million in city Tax Increment Financing funds and issue bonds to pay for the project, said Commissioner William Beavers, a South Side Democrat.

“It’s a huge landmark,” he told the Sun-Times adding: “It’s really such a beautiful building, something needed to be done to save it.”

While officials are cautiously optimistic about the TIF dollars coming through and the rest of the financing falling in to place, a timeline for construction work and move-in date have yet to be set.

Still, preservationists see this as a victory. It was their work that spared building, from the wrecking ball back in 2004, just two years after it was vacated.

“We’re thrilled — for our organization this has been a seven-plus year battle, one to show this was historic and worthy of preservation. And then we had this six years of limbo with the building being mothballed and not knowing what was going to happen,” said Jonathan Fine, with Preservation Chicago. “Today is a good day in historic preservation.”

The group included the hospital in its “7 most endangered” Chicago buildings back in 2003 and 2004.

Fronting the 1800 block of West Harrison, the hospital and its famous Beaux-Arts facade was built in 1914 during the "City Beautiful" movement, when public buildings were intended to re-create the classical grandeur of Europe.

The building was closed in 2002, replaced by Stroger Hospital.



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