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Plans for Children's Memorial Hospital Site Becoming Clearer

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To update our coverage of the Children's Memorial Hospital redevelopment, Curbed attended last night's "Conceptual Plan Town Hall Meeting" in Lincoln Park. This is the 24th meeting since McCaffery Interests was selected as developer for the project.

Here's the timeline: City Council is set to vote in the third quarter of 2012; Children's Memorial Hospital moves to its new digs in Streeterville on June 9, 2012; and, during the summer and fall of 2012, the old hospital will be decommissioned. Buildings will be available for demolition in November 2012. Daniel McCaffery and 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith both stressed the desire to begin work as soon as possible.

Architect and site planner Joe Antunovich went through a series of slides detailing the conceptual plans. He explained that the following buildings will likely be saved (see image after article): Nellie Black Building and Kohl's House on Orchard and Fullerton, Wilson/Jones Buildings on Orchard and Fullerton, the terra-cotta Annex Building on Fullerton and Lincoln, Boiler House and Laundry buildings on Lincoln, 2350-2358 N. Lincoln, and the 850-space parking structure. McCaffery said he would do "everything to keep them," but could not guarantee none would be torn down. As discussed in earlier meetings, the preserved structures will be adapted to new uses such as retail. A school, which had been suggested as a possible reuse, was rejected as cost-prohibitive. A hotel is another possibility.

The stretch of Lincoln Avenue between Fullerton and Belden will anchor the redevelopment. It is envisioned as a premier retail corridor with, McCaffery hopes, at least 20-25 percent local and/or regional retailers. The narrow sidewalks will be widened to around 20 feet to accommodate streetscaping, additional pedestrian traffic, al fresco dining, and other activities. One-story retail buildings will line the first floor of the parking garage. Efforts will be made to soften the garage's harsh appearance, including a green screen and ivy that would cover all four sides.

The main hospital building is slated for demolition. Under these plans, it would be replaced by two residential towers built in two phases. The first phase, located along Orchard and Lincoln, is about 16 floors. Phase two is in the range of 20 floors and would border Fullerton and Lincoln avenues. The first two floors of phase two will be retail, with hopes of a high-profile anchor tenant occupying the second floor. The third floor may house a community meeting place with an outdoor area. Both buildings will feature setbacks. Finally, the plans set aside nearly one-acre of land as open space.

One of the more contentious elements of the redevelopment is a below-grade loading area accessible by a ramp on Fullerton and Burling. A few attendees expressed concern about the additional traffic it would generate. McCaffery said he has not had the chance to conduct traffic studies at such an early stage and took the criticism under advisement.

Community members conveyed their desire for the architecture to be truly special, even iconic. To this end, one man pushed McCaffery and Antunovich to seek other architects to work on the project. Both agreed, with McCaffery saying it would not be prudent for the entire site to be planned and designed solely by one architect and developer.

In total, the plans would add between 700,000 - 800,000 square feet of new space. The timetable for demolition, if it begins as hoped in November 2012, is six months. During that period, work would also begin on existing buildings. Overall, the plans were well-received by those attending the meeting.
·More Info Trickles in on Children's Memorial Hospital Plan [Curbed Chicago]
·McCaffery Interests [McCaffery Interests]