Redevelopment of Old Cook County Hospital Advances

The restoration and rehabilitation of Old Cook County Hospital has been turned over to a private development team with the execution of a long-term lease – a vital step in moving this highly anticipated project forward.   

The private developer, Civic Health Development Group (CHDG), is led by Chicago-based developer John T. Murphy and includes Walsh Investors, Murphy Development Group, MB Real Estate, Plenary Group, and Granite Companies. 

CHDG plans to invest approximately $130 million of private dollars to transform the historic building into a contemporary anchor and catalyst for the hospital campus and surrounding community.  The lease, which became effective on December 31, commits the developer to finalize construction plans, with the goal of obtaining a permit to begin restoration work in the summer of 2018. Responsibility for expenditures and maintaining the property has been transferred to the development team. 

“With the signing of this lease, we can all look forward to restoring this amazing building and its historic architecture,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Additionally, the redevelopment of Old County Hospital will unlock tremendous economic potential for the Near West Side and the Illinois Medical District.”

The rehabilitation of Old Cook County Hospital will return to useful life a landmark that is both historic and architecturally significant. The building, located at 1835 W. Harrison St., was designed by architect Paul Gerhardt and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Historic restoration plans have been developed and refined by the world-renowned architecture firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.  Detailed plans on the restoration elements of the project have been submitted to the State’s Historic Preservation Office. 

The first tenants of the rehabilitated structure, expected in 2019, will include a major hotel, administrative/medical offices and ground floor retail. Subsequent phases contemplate mixed-use residential, office, retail and parking on County land north, south and east of Old Cook County Hospital.

CHDG was selected in 2016 after the County received proposals from seven interested parties. That list was narrowed to include CHDG and two other development teams.  The project is being developed without the use of any Cook County public subsidies and/or funds. 

In addition to conventional bank construction financing, CHDG is partially financing the project through federal historic tax credits, which were critical to advancing the initial phase of development. With execution of the lease, CHDG qualified to utilize the tax credits, a benefits program managed by the National Park Service.

That program is being substantially reduced for similar projects beginning this year as a result of the 2017 Tax Reform Act, which provided added momentum for execution of the lease prior to January 1.