Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.


Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

  Cook County has the largest unified trial court system in the world, disposing over 6 million cases in 1990 alone.

Razing old hospital would be costly loss for county

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times

We live in a golden age for preservation and renewal in Chicago. People live in former shoe factories and cold storage warehouses. Hotels have taken over dingy office buildings and a faded auditorium became a fancy furniture store. Development has spread to areas that used to be too seedy, too industrial, too far from the lake.

In the chambers of Cook County government, it's as if none of that has happened.

With a pigheaded determination to avoid better ideas, County Board President John Stroger is intent on demolishing the old Cook County Hospital at 1835 W. Harrison. The board could approve a demolition contract as soon as Thursday.

Preservationists are upset and they've done a good job of stoking opposition on the County Board, even though Stroger still may have a majority of the votes. But a far larger group -- taxpayers -- should be upset, too. Tearing down the old hospital, a building that could not be replicated today at any reasonable cost, is foolish.

Add to that the building's location in a district where there's a relentless expansion of medical space, including the county's own long-term appetite, and a demolition looks absurd.

When architecture is an issue, people sometimes try to rescue buildings that have no prospects for present-day life. The old County is absolutely not in that category.

With its oldest sections dating from 1913, County's most visible part is its two-block stretch along Harrison. Its cladding of brick, granite and terra cotta lends a gray eminence to the street and Pasteur Park immediately north. But the secret to the building's convertibility are its five wings that run north-south behind the Harrison frontage.

Those wings are architecturally expendable and could be razed, renovated or replaced, depending on plans and money. They give the building a scalable quality -- one section could be closed off while another is fully occupied. To developers accustomed to more difficult sites, it's almost a no-brainer. One who toured the property said it would take only a year to "turn the building around'' and make it productive again.

As for what to put in it, architect Joe Antunovich has worked with developer Daniel McCaffery and the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois to craft a practical solution. Antunovich suggests devoting the main part of the building to 185 residences for student nurses, plus doctors' offices on the lower floors.

All the rear wings could be demolished, he said, and replaced with a new ambulatory care center that the county's going to need anyway. That allows for the demolition of the outmoded Fantus Clinic west of the hospital. Antunovich slyly proposed a park to replace Fantus. The greenery should appeal to Stroger's vanity by creating a front yard showing off the new hospital on which he stuck his name.

Antunovich knows rehabs. He and McCaffery turned the landmark Reliance Building into the Hotel Burnham. In November, Antunovich had an hourlong audience about his plan with Stroger and county Commissioner John Daley, the mayor's brother. They took his documents, praised his presentation and then nothing happened, Antunovich said.

Stroger continues to swear the old County needs to go. Why? He talks in contradictions. Either it's to provide open space to meet the city's zoning terms that led to the new hospital, or it's so the county has room for "future needs.''

Any new medical building will cost dearly and be added to the $20 million to $30 million the county would pay to demolish the old hospital and neutralize its asbestos. A renovation could total around $70 million to $80 million and be structured to give the county revenue in short order from rent or a property sale. Antunovich suggested a sale-leaseback that would yield to developers perhaps $20 million in federal tax credits for historic renovation.

Many developers have expressed interest in the site, but Stroger has put them off. Last summer, his staff grudgingly called for their proposals at the same time it was issuing specs for the demolition contract, hardly a way to make somebody hire architects and engineers for a response.

Others can argue County's case for its fluted columns and the classical figures in its facade. But it is not an official landmark and one man's treasure is another's slum. I rest my case on preserving needed and functional space. Stroger can ignore the logic, but at least it'll make him mighty uncomfortable.

Recent Headlines

Judge: Labor unions don't owe non-union state workers refunds, despite unconstitutional fees
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Cook County record

Recovery Behind Bars: Cook County Jailís Opioid Treatment Program
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Medill Reports

The language of justice: Court interpreters fight for client rights and their rights in Cook County
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Medill Reports

Cook County General Hospital's $90-Million Redevelopment Saves a Chicago Icon
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Engineering News Rec ord

Preckwinkle sends out harassment survey to staff after harassment controversy in her office
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Illinois Land Title Association Granted Summary Judgment in Case against Cook County Recorder of Deeds
Sunday, March 17, 2019
Illinois State Bar Association

Grand Jury Indicts Debt Collector of Bribing Cook County Clerk Dorothy Brown
Friday, March 15, 2019
WBBM Chicago

Indictment: Cook County's hired debt collector charged with bribing county officials to secure county contract
Friday, March 15, 2019
Cook County record

Karen Chavers Honored as 2019 Unsung Heroine
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Special to

Pappas to announce deadline for Cook County property owners to pay late taxes
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Courts Cause Confusion For Woman Trying To Resolve Her Case
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
CBS Chicago

Census changes raise fears of Illinois undercounting
Monday, March 11, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Sheriff Warns of Apple Phone Scam
Monday, March 11, 2019

Caller poses as Apple to get victims personal info in scam targeting Cook County residents
Monday, March 11, 2019
WGN Chicago

Should Young Adults Be Sent To Juvenile Courts?
Sunday, March 10, 2019
NPR Radio

Cook County Jail hires 2nd consecutive mental health professional as warden
Wednesday, March 06, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Lawsuit: Sheriff jailed dozens because of faulty electronic monitoring devices
Monday, March 04, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Woman dies while in custody at Cook County Jail
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Fox 32

City considers landmarking old Cook County Hospital
Friday, March 01, 2019
Gazette Chicago

Judge: State constitution doesn't force Cook County to spend $250M more on roads, transport projects
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Cook County Rrecord

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.