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Resolution to Hold Hearing on Old Hospital

Wednesday, June 25, 2003
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WHEREAS, the decision to demolish Cook County Hospital was made in 1999 based on a 1988 study and a limited examination of space alternatives to meet zoning requirements; and

WHEREAS, that decision was based primarily on a 1988 study that focused on the rehabilitation and reuse of the structure for the purposes of a hospital or for educational and offices uses for the hospital; and

WHEREAS, in 1988 there was not a significant track record of redevelopment of buildings of this size, and since that time, great strides have been made in the rehabilitation/reuse of large historic structures, such as Medinah Temple, the Reliance Building, the Montgomery Ward Warehouse, Chicago's Theatre District, and the Milwaukee County Hospital; and

WHEREAS, federal and local tax credits and incentives of more than $20 million are in place now that did not exist when the study was done, drastically improving the economic feasibility of such a project that can have mixed uses, including medical offices, clinic space, medical conference space, retail for medical staff and the community and residential units; and

WHEREAS, Cook County Hospital is significant both as one of the city's best examples of Beaux Arts-style architecture and for its national historic significance treating the indigent and developing innovative treatments for such things as burns and sickle cell anemia; and

WHEREAS, every new citizen group of Cook County was treated with dignity and medical expertise at Cook County Hospital from 1914 to 2003; and

WHEREAS, in part because of its architectural and historic significance, Cook County Hospital was chosen to be the model for the television series "ER", and the façade of the hospital has since become a symbol of Chicago recognized around the world; and

WHEREAS, in addition to historic and architectural benefits, preservation of such structures serves as an economic catalyst to the area; and

WHEREAS, redeveloping the main hospital site excluding the Children's Hospital, power plant, 12KV Building and other additions would put the two-block-long property on the tax rolls and meet all required zoning; and

WHEREAS, much of the "demolition preparation contract" (approved 8/1/02) focused on planning efforts, including building documentation, utility relocation plans, and asbestos and other environmental removal -- initiatives that would have to be done regardless of whether the building is demolished or reused; and

WHEREAS, a contract for the actual demolition has not been proposed, reviewed, or approved; and

WHEREAS, actual demolition will cost the County from $20-$30 million and the actual tax credits a developer could pay the County are in excess of $20 million, in addition to future real estate tax revenues; and

WHEREAS, demolition and creation of another passive park, similar to Pasteur Park will have no direct community benefits; and

WHEREAS, a reuse of the building has many direct community benefits; and

WHEREAS, although the discussion to consider demolishment of the hospital goes back as far as 1988, the demolition or preservation of the structure will be a major decision of this Board of Commissioners, many of whom have little to no information about the project.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the President and Board of Commissioners of Cook County hold a hearing to discuss the demolition or reuse of the hospital and to consider the cost savings that could result from the main hospital building's reuse, in whole or in part without any financial contribution from the County of Cook, prior to proceeding with a demolition contract.

Approved and adopted this ___  day of____, 2003.

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