Thanks to this continued advocacy, the support of the community and local leadership efforts, Old Cook County Hospital was put on the path toward rehabilitation and reuse when Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced an invitation charrette process to “unlock the value” of Old Cook County Hospital. Landmarks Illinois, with several other local organizations, participated to demonstrate, once again, the viability of reuse. The charrette resulted in a county RFP process. In 2016, Preckwinkle announced a successful bidder, Murphy Development Group, and a development plan for the historic site. On June 15, 2018, restoration and redevelopment broke ground on the historic hospital. Present at the groundbreaking ceremony were Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, several Chicago alderman and Cook County commissioners as well as Landmarks Illinois’ President and CEO Bonnie McDonald and Director of Advocacy Lisa DiChiera.
“This beautiful historic building has sat empty and unused for far too long,” said Preckwinkle of the restoration. “This project creates historic and lasting urban transformation in the heart of our County.”
After nearly two decades of vacancy, Chicago’s Cook County Hospital was restored and redeveloped into a mixed-use property featuring a 210-room Hyatt Place/Hyatt House hotel, accompanied by 75,000 square feet of medical office space and 25,000 square feet of retail space. This marks the completion of Phase 1 in an overall, four-phase redevelopment plan for what will be called Harrison Square. Civic Health Development Group (CHDG) and Chicago-based developer John T. Murphy led the the massive $140 million rehabilitation and redevelopment. The adaptive use project is especially astounding given the size of the facility and the degree of the former hospital building’s deterioration. The former hospital now provides economic activity, jobs and a much needed respite for staff and visitors in the medical district.
Among Landmarks Illinois’ preservation partners during the 22-year effort to save Old Cook County Hospital is Joe Antunovich and his firm Antunovich Associates, which put thousands of pro-bono hours into producing multiple reuse studies for the building and attended dozens of public hearings alongside Landmarks Illinois staff. Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin also should be credited for being a strong advocate for the building’s reuse and for pushing his colleagues to change their minds on demolition. Additionally, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was monumental in negotiating and ensuring a preservation path forward for the historic structure. Landmarks Illinois will always be grateful to her and her team.
“It’s hugely gratifying to see over 20 years of advocacy pay off,” said Landmarks Illinois Director of Advocacy Lisa DiChiera, who played an active part of the decades-long process of preserving the building. “Many individuals put their heart and soul into this long effort, and I am so happy to mark this milestone with them.”
(Photo credit: MacRostie Historic Advisors)