Living in Chicago means witnessing the constant renewal and development of the city. Downtown this often takes the form of grand-scale high-rises like the Trump Tower or the more ambitious Chicago Spire. From my office in the John Hancock Center (a site developed by my grandfather in the ‘60s), I can see the tower cranes looming over The Elysian, a new 60-story hotel/condominium high-rise going up to the west of us.
Icons like these may grab the big headlines, but there are smaller developments underway that are just as exciting for the neighborhoods they affect.
Children’s Memorial Hospital Redevelopment
With a $100 million gift from Philanthropist Ann Lurie, Chicago’s top pediatric hospital is building a new state-of-the-art facility in Streeterville. The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago will be located at 225 E. Chicago Avenue, between Chicago Avenue and Superior Street.
In the meantime, the big question is what will happen with the hospital’s main campus at the corner of Lincoln and Fullerton in the heart of Lincoln Park. The City’s Department of Planning and Development has chosen the firm Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum, Inc. to work with the Alderman’s office on the guidelines for redevelopment of the Children’s site.
If you are interested in learning more about this project, check Alderman Vi Daley’s website next month for details about a community meeting tentatively planned for October. She encourages anyone with an interest in this process to take part in formalizing the community’s view of the future of this large and important site.
New Retail on the 1200 Block of North Wells Street
North Wells Street has long been the retail epicenter of Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood. Host to the country’s first Crate and Barrel store (founded in 1962) and Chicago’s famous improv troupe, Second City, Wells is a popular destination for shopping, dining and entertainment.
A proposal for the development of a mixed use retail and residential property by JDL Development for the existing Grossinger properties on the 1200 block of North Wells at Scott Street has the potential to further improve the caliber of the neighborhood’s retail offerings. The plan includes a taller building on the east side of Wells with retail on the first and second floors, a one- or two-story commercial building on the west side of Wells, and six single-family homes around the corner along Scott Street. Property owners in the area will be notified when the developer submits a “Planned Development Application” to the Department of Planning and Development. A final hearing will be scheduled before the Plan Commission in the coming months.
600 Block of West Diversey Development
Diversy is the boundary separating Chicago’s Lincoln Park and Lakeview neighborhoods. All of the buildings on the south (Lincoln Park) side of Diversey between Orchard and the alley to the east of Orchard have been acquired by a local development company, creating the potential for one or more large new retail venues. A Barnes & Noble bookstore and a parking lot are currently located on the site.
According to Alderman Vi Daley, several retailers including grocers have expressed an interest in locating in the area. Milwaukee based Roundy’s, a large grocer coming into the Chicago market, was the first to present plans, but nothing has been signed. The Alderman will schedule a community a meeting as soon as a more substantive proposal is offered. Although I frequent that Barnes & Nobel store, a new upscale grocery store in its place would be fantastic for the neighborhood. And anyway, there is always Borders Bookstore which is only a block away at Clark and Diveresy.
A New Chicago Public School High School
One of the greatest challenges faced by families who opt to raise their children in the city is where to send them to school. There are some excellent public school options, but they are limited geographically and in some cases subject to an application and/or lottery. There are also some very strong private and parochial schools but they can be expensive, and again, there are not enough openings to meet the demand. The good news is that the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is considering a proposal to create a new public high school for children who reside in northeast Lincoln Park and south Lakeview.
A community forum will be held on Thursday, September 18th at 6:00 pm at Louisa May Alcott School (2625 North Orchard) regarding the plan for the Alcott High School for the Humanities (AHSH). Representatives of the CPS system will present their proposal and seek comments. The school’s mission will be to meet the demand for expanded options for 9th through 12th grade students by providing a dynamic small school. Emphasizing solid mentoring towards college and postsecondary success, the new high school “will nurture a student body capable of critical thinking, active citizenship and private contemplation” according to Alderman Daley.
AHSH would be open to all graduates of Louisa May Alcott Elementary School with remaining seats equally divided between neighborhood and city-wide students. View the Chicago Public School locator map to learn the boundaries of the Louisa May Alcott Elementary School.
No location is set for this school as of yet, but it would likely be housed in an existing CPS facility. New construction is not being considered.
Also, FYI, there may be some additional schools in the city’s future. A community meeting will be hosted by The Office of New Schools on Tuesday, September 16 at 6:00 p.m. at Ogden Elementary School at 24 W. Walton Street to discuss developing new schools in and around Chicago’s 42nd Ward. (The 42nd Ward includes parts of Streeterville, the Gold Coast, Old Town, the Loop, River North, and River West.) The public is invited to attend. The city is looking for people to get involved, meet the new school design teams, and provide input for new school ideas. For more information, please call Chicago’s Office of New Schools at (773) 553-1530.