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City begins developer selection process for Michael Reese, neighboring lakeside sites

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City Hall will choose a developer for the sprawling Bronzeville parcel in roughly six months time

Yesterday, Chicago city planners formally began the intensive process of selecting a developer to transform the long-vacant lakefront site formerly occupied by Michael Reese Hospital. Closed in 2008 and acquired by the city the following year in anticipation of Chicago being selected as the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games, the Bronzeville site has been described by Mayor Rahm Emmanuel as a “once-in-a-generation” redevelopment opportunity for the city’s south side.

In its official Request for Proposal (RFP), the city has come out in support of a wide range of potential future uses such as commercial, residential, institutional, entertainment, tourism, sports and recreation. There’s even been reported speculation that Chicago’s long-discussed (and so far elusive) downtown casino could land at the former Reese site.

In addition to the 49 acres of city owned land, Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development will also accept proposals that extend to a neighboring 11-acre privately owned parcel known as the Advocate/McDonald’s Site and the 28-acre truck marshalling yards controlled by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority. With the inclusion of these additional sites, the city hopes to attract a “broader range of proposed developments and configurations.”

The combined site falls with the existing 491-acre Bronzeville Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, but the city hasn’t ruled out the creation of a brand new TIF with boundaries specifically drawn to match the redevelopment site. Planners have also expressed their preference to see the 72,800 square-foot Singer Pavilion—the old hospital’s sole remaining structure—adaptively reused by the selected developer.

It’s too early to guess how much money the city could receive for the land. In addition to putting up the cash to cover acquisition costs, the development partner will also be responsible for site planning, attracting tenants, environmental remediation, infrastructure financing and construction, marketing, securing any zoning changes and other entitlements. Responses to the city’s Request for Proposal (RFP) are due no later than February 22. Developer selection scheduled to take place April 6.