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City considers landmarking old Cook County Hospital

Friday, March 01, 2019
Gazette Chicago
by Patrick Butler


City considers landmarking old Cook County Hospital
March 1, 2019

Renderings by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill The renovated and repurposed Cook County Hospital building will retain its beaux arts façade, leading to its consideration for City landmark status.

Renovation and repurposing are well underway as workers transform the 103-year-old former Cook County Hospital at 1835 W. Harrison St. into a $1 billion apartment, hotel, restaurant, retail, and office complex. The City’s 18-member Committee on Zoning, Landmarks, and Buildings Standards last month also began examining possible landmark status for the building, which would not inhibit the renovation.

The building is expected to create 900 jobs during the renovation, and the estimated $1 billion cost is coming entirely from “private sources,” County Board President Toni Preckwinkle estimated. A public-private partnership is managing the project, with the county continuing to own the building and lease it to future users and private developers doing the renovations and repurposing.

County officials expect the project to generate more than 2,000 temporary and permanent jobs, with emphasis on hiring local residents whenever possible.

The building will feature Hyatt House and Hyatt Place hotels having a combined 210 guest rooms.

According to Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), who was born at the hospital, “it’s solid and a part of Chicago and Cook County history. We’re trying to bring back life to the place where so many lives started.”

Officials shut down the historic hospital in 2002 and moved patients to the John Stroger Jr. Hospital facility at 1969 W. Ogden Ave.

The old hospital had remained vacant since then.

“This project creates and fosters true urban transformation in the heart of our county,” Preckwinkle said.

When workers finish renovations, the building will retain its beaux arts façade, one of the reasons preservationists and historians feel the building deserves landmark status. The old County Hospital already is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In August, the City’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks, and Buildings Standards passed a historic preservation tax incentive to assist the project’s developers.

Among the team members involved in the redevelopment are Civic Health Development Group, Koo Interiors, MB Real Estate Services, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Walsh Investors LLC, Plenary Group USA Ltd., and Granite Companies LLC.

The area around the hospital ultimately will include “pocket” parks and a new technology tower.

Part of the renovated building is expected to open as early as this fall.

—Patrick Butler

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