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Report: Demolish hospital
Former Cook County Hospital building has been vacant since 2002

Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Daily Southtown
by Jonathan Lipman

A long-awaited consultant's report on the Stroger Hospital campus recommends demolition of the former Cook County Hospital building, which has been sitting vacant since December 2002.

The building has been repeatedly slated for demolition but has won several reprieves despite costing taxpayers $500,000 a month to heat and secure it. Preservationists have argued it is a unique structure that could be rehabbed to work with its replacement facility, Stroger Hospital.

Rehabbing the 90-year-old Harrison Street building would cost $11.4 million more than tearing it down and replacing it with offices, the report concluded.

County Board President John Stroger has favored demolition of the old hospital, but he ordered the $1.4 million "campus master plan" in February when commissioners said they wanted to see other options.

Stroger spokesman John Gibson said Stroger wants the board to read the consultant's recommendations, but the president will not renew his push for demolition.

"He's going to basically go with the will of the board," Gibson said.

The report, released to commissioners Tuesday, was prepared by U.S. Equities Development and Premier Alliance Management. The board approved the deal on Stroger's recommendation despite critics' objections because Premier is run by Stroger's former chief of staff Orlando Jones.

The county would do better to replace the old limestone building with "a modern, purpose-built, integrated-design facility," the report stated.

The consultant also recommends building a 1,760-space parking garage, an administrative office building and a new building for primary care clinics and the overwhelmed hospital pharmacy.

Also recommended are 176 new medical/surgical beds for Stroger Hospital, which is seeing increasing demand and is in danger of overcrowding. It routinely operates at more than 90 percent capacity.



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