Children's Memorial Hospital site plan approved after tower is eliminated

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McCaffrey Interests, developer of the vacated Children’s Memorial Hospital site, presented its revised plan to the Chicago Plan Commission on February 20.  The Plan Commission unanimously approved the Plan, which will now go to the Zoning Committee of the Chicago City Council.  After McCaffrey made a number of additional changes to the plan presented at the January 14 Community Meeting, 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith has indicated her support for the revised Plan.  It is anticipated that the Plan will receive Zoning Committee support at its March 24 meeting and be presented to the City Council for passage of the new Planned Development zoning ordinance needed for the developer to proceed.  Details of the proposal and the presentation can be found at Alderman Smith’s website, www.43Ward.org

After the January 14 general community meeting, the SNA Board voted to indicate its support for the plan with reservations concerning the proposed 11-story apartment tower on the west side of Lincoln Avenue north of the parking garage.  In a letter to the Alderman and the developer, the SNA expressed its concern about the traffic and parking impact of such a large building on a narrow site.  Shortly after the letter was sent, McCaffrey and Alderman Smith announced that McCaffrey had dropped the plan for this building.  Instead, it now has plans for a retail building for a health and fitness center at this location.  The building will not be nearly as tall, having a height that is nearly the same as the adjacent garage. 

McCaffrey is working with the staff of the Chicago Landmarks Commission on blending this building in with the historic facades of the buildings on Lincoln Avenue.  This change will reduce the number of residential units on the site.  McCaffrey also made several other revisions, including a tunnel under Fullerton Avenue so that deliveries to the senior citizen housing building on the north side of Fullerton can be made from the underground loading area on the south side of Fullerton. Representatives of SNA, LCA, and WNCA testified before the Plan Commission in support of the Plan.

The SNA, along with the Lincoln Central Association and Wrightwood Neighbors, has agreed to enter into a Community Agreement with McCaffrey containing details concerning rodent control, hours of construction, site maintenance, and the like, which supplement the provisions of the Planned Development itself.  The Mid-North Association and the Park West Community Association continue to oppose the plan, however, and at present are not signatories to the Community Agreement.  A number of their members who live closest to the development continue to object to the height of the two remaining apartment towers, the size of the project, and plans for an entrance ramp for truck deliveries on Fullerton.  Other neighbors nearby support the plan.  While community groups in Lincoln Park make an effort to support each other and present a unified front when possible, each group makes its own decision based on its own assessment of the impact of a project on its area, particularly of this size and scope.

Ted Wrobleski chairs SNA’s Planning Committee.