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Ald. Reilly "Inclined" To Support Prentice Demolition

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 15, 2012 10:00PM

If Chicago’s wards are fiefdoms, then the words of our aldermen are like proclamations from feudal lords. So there isn’t much reading between the lines regarding by Ald. Brendan Reilly’s (42nd) remarks on the status of Old Prentice Women’s Hospital.

During a speech today at the City Club of Chicago, Reilly said that, barring a “eureka moment,” he was “inclined” to support Northwestern University’s continuing efforts to tear down Bertrand Goldberg-designed hospital in order for the university to build a state-of-the-art biomedical research center. [Read their plan here. (PDF)]

Per the Tribune:

"My inclination, unfortunately, would be to allow the university to proceed with its plans," Reilly said, later adding: "I remain open to suggestions. And believe me, if there's a Eureka moment, I'm all ears. The last thing I want to do is take down important architecture in the central business district."

Northwestern and preservationists have been arguing for years over the hospital. Northwestern says razing the old building and building the new facility would result in a $390 million economic impact to Streeterville and has the support of groups such as the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Greater North Michigan Avenue Association and numerous labor unions, architects, business leaders and patient advocacy groups. Other architects and groups such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Landmarks Illinois and Preservation Chicago believe demolition only serves NU’s best interests.

An overview of Northwestern’s real estate holdings in Streeterville conducted by the Save Prentice Coalition theorized the university, through a series of interlocking relationships, owns up to 44 percent of the real estate in Streeterville; Historic Prentice makes up only 4 percent of those holdings. This includes a vacant three-acre site of the former VA Lakeside Medical Center where the university says the new research facility cannot be built.

Reilly’s comment is the surest sign yet that Northwestern may get its way in the Prentice debate. Last month Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he would listen to everyone with an opinion on the matter, but wouldn’t take sides.