Olympic Village to Move West?
By Kevin Robinson in News on Sep 13, 2007 1:00PM
The Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center site is being considered for redevelopment as the Olympic Village, moving the proposed site west off the lakefront. Colliers Bennett & Kahnweiler Inc. has already received bids on the land, which Medline Industries Inc., Michael Reese's parent company, is trying to unload. The hospital is in discussions with Cook County to form a potential partnership, although no formal agreement has been reached yet.
Among the benefits of moving the proposed site away from the trucking marshaling yards for McCormick Place include building the new construction into the street grid and connecting the Olympic Village to Bronzeville, integrating it more into the neighborhood. Although it isn't more than just speculation at this point, Michael Senner, a senior vice president at Colliers Bennett, summed it up to the Sun Times pretty succinctly: "They haven't said to us, 'This is where we want to put the Olympic Village,' .... If they paid enough, sure." According to the Sun Times, only seven of the 17 buildings on the site are currently in use.
Fourth Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle has suggested that building the Olympic Village on the Michael Reese site would be both more cost effective and create a more coherent and connected development in relation to Bronzeville. "It's easier to build on the ground than it is to build the physical infrastructure you need to build housing above. It would be less expensive," she told the Sun Times in January. Building on the McCormick site, as originally proposed, would require heavy structural investment, while breaking up the trucking yards.
Of course, with the state budget fight still dragging on and funding for regional mass transit hardly a sure thing these days, the viability of Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid remains unclear. Regardless, officials have said that they will go forward with the $1.1 billion project even if Chicago doesn't get the nod to host the Olympics.
Image via Derek Wiebenson.