City names developer for former Michael Reese Hospital site

CHICAGO (WLS) -- On Friday, the city of Chicago announced the team that will redevelop the old Michael Reese Hospital site, bringing thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to Bronzeville.

The hospital site is located just south of McCormick Place and closed nearly 10 years ago, but has remained vacant.

The 50 acres of land that has been a huge economic drain on the city is finally on the road to development. A team has been chosen to develop the site of the shuttered Michael Reese hospital.

"It is very rare to find this type of acreage and proximity to the largest convention center in western hemisphere and with proximity to the lakefront," said Scott Goodman of Farpoint Development.

Dormant for over a decade, the city bought the site to build an Olympic Village. When its bid for the 2016 games failed and the recession hit, the city was stuck paying for it.

"The way we envision this occurring is we would sell the property in phases, where we would get significant chucks for paying down that debt," said City of Chicago Planning Commissioner David Reifman.

The site is expected have 9 to 10 million square feet of developmental space that is likely to be a mixed use of technology, residential and commercial space. A Bronzevile community group is part of the development team.

"Our team has put together some things that I think the community will benefit from, because what we need are jobs," said Paula Robinson of the Bronzeville Development Community Partnership.

But, some longtime Bronzeville residents and business owners felt left out of the process. Mell Monroe is the only African American-licensed bed and breakfast owner in the city.

"I'd like to see more engaging of small business owners especially those offering a progressive service," said Monroe.

What's left out of process is an empty Michael Reese and there's been an inner process working with people throughout the community to make sure that what is sitting there empty and has been sitting empty for years is really going to be an opportunity for everyone in the Bronzeville community and in Chicago as a whole," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The city says it will be developed over the next 10 years. While there still isn't an exact plan, the city said it won't be a casino - not because they're against a casino but because there is no legislation for one.
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