Four years after the planning and engagement processes began, the redevelopment of the Michael Reese site will likely break ground next year and be completed in 2026, with community spaces and 20% of new housing guaranteed affordable alongside a 500,000-square-foot medical research facility at 31st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue.
In sum, the first phase of development would cover 1 million new square feet of buildings along the lakefront between 31st Street and the Stevenson Expressway-Lake Shore Drive interchange; the total cost of the two-phased project would be $6 billion.
Scott Goodman of Farpoint Development told at Ald. Sophia King's (4th) May 4 community meeting that the project is going well and that his team and the neighborhood are eager for work to begin. Farpoint leads the Global Research Innovation & Tourism district (GRIT), the team of real estate firms the city chose in 2017 to redevelop the land
The site, now owned by the city, was to have hosted the athletes' village under the plan for Chicago's doomed 2016 Olympic bid, but it has lain dormant since the hospital closed in 2009.
"The vision is to build a sustainable health and wellness community," said Kenneth Bahk from Kaleidoscope Health Ventures, the main tenant, "and a world-class health innovation cluster that promotes talent, workforce development and new health solutions that address health disparities and drive wellness and longevity for all of Chicago."
The ARC Innovation Center medical research facility would work to develop entrepreneur-developed technologies and help new companies launch: "The ARC is a leader in telemedicine, precision medicine and digital innovation and will serve as a magnet to attract talent, academia, industry partners and investors to create new jobs, startups and companies right here in Chicago," Bahk said.
A new park, art innovation center, community center, retail and Metra Station at 31st Street, replacing the underused 27th Street station, are also in the plan.
The second phase consists of incremental redevelopment from 2025 to 2035, with 8.2 million square feet of mixed-use development projected overall and 8.2 acres of open space. Development of the Marshaling Yards site bordering Lake Shore Drive is also under consideration but is not yet included in GRIT's official plans.
Ald. King has long stressed community equity and involvement in the project. She has compared the redevelopment of the former hospital site to the establishment of the Obama Presidential Center in the 5th Ward.
She noted that a Chicago casino is no longer under consideration for the site, as the city had once proposed; last year, she said putting one in Bronzeville, the historic cultural heart of Black Chicago, would be as inappropriate as putting one in New York's Harlem neighborhood.
Developers pledged 30% participation for minority-owned business enterprises, 10% for women-owned business enterprises, 65% minority-led business participation. King said developers have also pledged up to $25 million in education, with 20 internships and 75 apprenticeships a year, "depending on what is needed in the community."
Assistant Commissioner Cynthia Roubik said the Chicago Department of Planning and Development will lead three review processes: one of the department itself, another of the project's finance application and a third of the land sale and redevelopment agreement.
Goodman said GRIT projects it will acquire the land in roughly nine months. A follow-up community meeting is planned for the fall, with Plan Commission and City Council approval by the winter.