Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=226553
Story Retrieval Date: 8/22/2014 8:34:37 PM CST

Top Stories
Features
LPARK01

Courtesy of McCaffery Interests Inc.

McCaffery's plan calls for demolishing the existing hospital, renovating several existing buildings, including the Annex Building at Fullerton and Lincoln avenues, and building three new high-rise towers.


Lincoln Park residents still divided over Children's Hospital redevelopment

by Robin Amer
Jan 15, 2014


Hospital development timeline

   

  • April 2006: Children's Memorial Hospital announces plans to move to a new campus in Streeterville
  • June 2012: Children's Memorial Hospital relocates to Streeterville
  • July 2012: McCaffery Interests Inc. presents original plan for site redevelopment
  • Jan. 2014: McCaffery reveals second draft of plan, calling for decreased height and density

A Chicago developer has unveiled a revised plan for the redevelopment of the former Children's Memorial Hospital site in Lincoln Park that scales back the height and density of the residential and commercial project. But even with concessions to those community concerns, vocal opposition remains from the site's closest neighbors who fear a major uptick in traffic and congestion.

Nearly 500 people packed an auditorium in the DePaul Student Center Tuesday to hear McCaffery Interests Inc. CEO Dan McCaffery and project architect Joe Antunovich of Antunovich Associates Inc. detail their more modest design.

"We won't convince everyone," McCaffery said in his opening remarks, acknowledging the project's contentious past.

McCaffery's original plan for the 6-acre site, which sits at the busy intersection of Fullerton and Lincoln avenues, was a mixed-use development with retail and residential space, including three high-rise apartment towers as tall as 27 stories.

But residents objected to the project when it was unveiled in July 2012, saying that the size was not in keeping with the current scale of the neighborhood. They also worried the influx of new residents and shoppers would clog already crowded streets and make driving and parking a nightmare.

McCaffery responded by shrinking the tallest two apartment towers to 19 stories each and by reducing the amount of retail space by 59,500 square feet to 105,000 square feet. The new plan also includes three parks in the center of the development, plans for senior housing and an underground loading dock meant to keep delivery trucks from idling on major thoroughfares.

Many residents were pleased with these changes and several praised attempts to restore "vitality" to the site, which has been vacant since Children's Memorial Hospital, now known as the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, moved to a new facility in Streeterville in 2012.

Many supporters, especially those from the area's business community, said they hoped to stem the tide of small business closures that came in the wake of the hospital's departure.

"Our sales have dropped 15 to 20 percent," said Mason Green, owner of the nearby Bourgeois Pig Cafe. "Our neighbor, Nesh [Mediterranean Grill], just closed. Today was their last day."

At least nine other local businesses have closed in recent months, according to the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce.

But some residents, especially those who live within a block or two of the hospital, were still unsatisfied.

"They've come a long way," Lincoln Park resident Joy Wingren said of McCaffery. "But for the life of me I don't know why any of these towers need to be higher than 75 feet. There shouldn't be a re-zoning concession.”

Even with the scaled back plan, McCaffery still needs city approval of a zoning variance for the project to move forward.

Alderman Michele Smith of the 43rd Ward hasn’t given the project her blessing yet.

"We're still collecting a lot of feedback," she said. "We're really going to evaluate all of this and listen to the concerns and keep the process going."

The developer promised to take the latest concerns into account.

"We cannot satisfy everybody," Dan McCaffery said. "But I'm not going to ignore anybody either."