Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Closer Look at the Michael Reese Hospital Site

With all the recent talk about TIFs to help fund the Olympic Village, it sparked us to take a closer look at the area. Below is an aerial shot of the proposed Olympic Village area. Although the official bid book has not been released, pieces of information have leaked through various media reports and interviews with 2016 officials.

We've identified four areas on the map that look to play a vital part in Chicago's 2016 Olympic Plan (assuming Chicago wins). With that said, let's take a look at each one:

Michael Reese Hospital Site
This area was recently bought by the city and looks to be a less expensive way to create the Olympic Village while still having it close to the city, by the lake, and next to many proposed venues. This area is prime real estate and in our mind a big win for the city and the bid.

Air Rights over McCormick Place Parking Lot
For the initial bid submission to the USOC and IOC, this area was originally slated to be the Olympic Village. The problem with that plan was that it was very expensive to build large housing structures over the air rights. From what we've read recently, the city still owns the air rights and plans to build a park connecting the Michael Reese site to the Lake/South Burnham Park. We like this idea as this area has been an eye sore for a long time and will help build a new park which will bolster the lake front.

Unknown Real Estate
The area shaded green is an unknown to us, we're not sure if it's part of the Michael Reese deal. After going down to the area it's still hard to tell. However, there is a McDonald's so we imagine that it's private property not owned by the city. The reason we call this out is because it butts up against the southern part of McCormick Place and would potentially be between the Olympic Village and McCormick Place (which plays a vital role in the plan). Although it would be ideal if the city owned this area, it probably wouldn't diminish the plan if it's not part of the village. Just an area to ponder...

Metra Rail Lines
Shaded in yellow are the Metra Rail lines that run Metra trains and South Shore trains. This is another great resource for this area and hopefully something the bid organizers and other Chicago urban planners are considering. These train lines don't connect to the current CTA train grid, but we would love to see them somehow join them. Check out our post from 2008 called "Sloopin's Grand Plan" that talks about this in more depth. Regardless, the 27th street station most likely will become a large hub for trains, buses and various other transportation resources as it looks to be one of the central points for the Olympic plan.

How do you feel about this site? Do you think the bid is using it well?

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