2016 Postmortem: NewCity's Report On Michael Reese Hospital
Six months after the loss of the 2016 Olympic bid, Michael Reese Hospital, the planned site in Bronzeville for the Olympic Village is a thirty-seven-acre deconstruction site and the future remains uncertain. This week, NewCity took an excellent in-depth look at what's next (or not) for the site. The city took over the Michael Reese Hospital’s thirty buildings last July with plans to demolish most of it for the Olympic site, which upset local preservationists. They formed the Gropius in Chicago Coalition led by architect Grahm Balkany with hopes to save his work. Even though the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council voted unanimously to add the site to the National Register of Historic Places, the demolition had already begun and only two buildings are planned to remain, a plan that was the subject of scrutiny.
Many wonder why the historic buildings are being torn down since there will be no Olympic Village but the city claims it wants to make the site more appealing for prospective buyers. Balkany told the NewCity that “The idea was, let’s buy this land, let’s clear it all out, get it ready for developers, and then let’s put a For Sale sign on it and see who bites. That’s as concrete as things are, at least officially Honestly, I think it was Mayor Daley having a temper tantrum. Somebody took away his candy and he just decided to throw a fit.”
The city hasn’t issued a request for proposals for the site but many have raised several ideas for the space such as a high school, Barack Obama’s presidential library, an entertainment district aimed at McCormick Place next door and a casino, which Mayor Daley quickly shut down. A professor at IIT assigned his students to divide up in two teams and create a plan for the site. One team is proposing a continuing care retirement community and the other is planning a ten-story vertical farm on top of a Whole Foods. Harold Lucas, head of the Black Metropolis Convention and Tourism Council and the Bronzeville Visitor Information Center, says he feels the site desperately needs a hotel. It looks no decision will be made on the site any time soon.
Be sure to check out NewCity's complete story here.