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Saving Old Cook County Hospital

Redevelopment of Old Cook County Hospital Advances

January 12, 2018

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.




 The Cook County Office of Capital Planning and Policy released the Market Rate RFP for the hospital systems main campus. This is the second RFP for the strategic redevelopment of the area. The first RFP for the medical side was released before Thanksgiving. The RFP solicitation, reference documents, and timetable are all available on the County's redevelopment website at:


 October 2014

Five civic organizations presented their visions for the site at the Chicago Architecture Foundation on Tuesday October 7, 2014.  To watch a video of the presentation click here

There were several suggestions for the hospital: residential lofts, a hotel and a business incubator. These ideas will now be used to assist potential developers when they present their plans for the hospital site. The county is expected to seek developer proposals this fall.

March, 2010

A meeting of the Cook County Committee on Construction will be held on March 2, 2010, at 9:30 am to consider the reuse proposal. The meeting will be held in the County Board Room, 118 N Clark, Room 569, Chicago, IL 60602.


February, 2010

Landmarks Illinois released A Case for the Adaptive Reuse of Old Cook County Hospital, supporting the reuse proposal and offering examples in other cities where old hospital buildings have been renovated and repurposed for administrative use.


November, 2009

The Cook County Department of Capital Planning and Development has released Cook County Hospital: Adaptive Reuse Study, prepared by Jones Lang LaSalle. This plan recommends that the highest and best use of Old Cook County Hospital is to renovate it for use by the Cook County Health and Hospitals System administration, which is currently housed in inferior working conditions in the old nursing college at 1900 W. Polk .

The Cook County Health and Hospitals System Board of Directors has approved the move of the System's administrative offices from their current location to a renovated County Hospital. This proposal will provide System staff a better working environment and protect an important architectural legacy.

Approval for the reuse project is currently pending in front of the Construction Committee of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.


July 2008

The County issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for Real Estate Consulting Services for Preliminary Analysis and Planning for the Adaptive Reuse of Old Cook County Hospital.


July 2007

The Cook County Board of Commissioners were presented a plan for the reuse of the old County Hospital. This proposal was referred to the Health and Hospitals Committee.


December 2006

I am optimistic that President Todd H. Stroger will work with us to come up with a reuse of the old County Hospital. During the campaign, President Stroger pledged support to come up with a re-use plan.


March 2006

I applaud the work of Commissioner Mike Quigley to have Cook County Hospital placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Click here for background on Commissioner Quigley's submission.


November 2005

I was happy to sponsor a motion to separate the fate of the old hospital building from other ongoing issues on the hospital campus. The separation will cause all available funds for demolition to be spent on the design and construction of needed parking garages and for the demolition of buildings that we agree should be demolished. The Old Hospital building will be maintained in its’ current state until a re-use plan is adopted by the Board.


Master Plan Released

On October 3, 2005, President Stroger released the Campus Master Plan completed by U.S. Equities Development, LLC. The plan was referred to the Health & Hospitals Committee and a public hearing was held on October 13, 2005.

Suffredin's Statement on the Campus Master Plan

I am pleased that the Plan released by U.S. Equities Development indicates that the Old Cook County Hospital building is a sound structure that could be reused. However, the Plan raises many questions on the future needs of the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital that will have to be discussed in much greater detail by the Cook County Board of Commissioners. I look forward to these discussions and anticipate that no final decision will be made regarding the Old Cook County Hospital until the Board thoroughly reviews the Campus Master Plan.


Master Planner Hired

At the February 1, 2005 County Board meeting, the Commissioners approved a contract with U.S. Equities Development, L.L.C. to complete a master plan for the entire Stroger Hospital of Cook County Campus. President Stroger has indicated that the administration is expecting a final report from U.S. Equities Development in August.


Hospital Master Planner Proposed

January 20, 2005

The effort to save Old Cook County Hospital from demolition began in June 2003. Since that time, many re-use proposals have been submitted to the County without any action by the Administration. Today, President Stroger submitted a proposal to hire a master planner for the entire hospital complex. This proposal will be scrutinized by the Construction Committee.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin, leader of the fight to save the Old Hospital Building and find a productive re-use, called this action, "A positive step that now must lead to true action in saving the Old Hospital and saving the taxpayers of Cook County significant dollars.


January 2004

A decision to demolish Cook County Hospital was made in 1999 based on a 1988 study and a limited examination of space alternatives to meet zoning requirements. That decision was based primarily on a 1988 study that focused on the rehabilitation and reuse of the structure for the purposes of a hospital or for educational and offices uses for the hospital.

Times have changed since the 1988 study. There have been many successful efforts to redevelop and reuse older buildings of this size. Additionally, federal and local tax credits and incentives of more than $20 million are in place now that did not exist when the study was done, drastically improving the economic feasibility of such a project that can have mixed uses.

Cook County Hospital is significant both as one of the city’s best examples of Beaux Arts-style architecture and for its national historic significance treating the indigent and developing innovative treatments for such things as burns and sickle cell anemia. Every new citizen group of Cook County was treated with dignity and medical expertise at Cook County Hospital from 1914 to 2003. In part because of its architectural and historic significance, Cook County Hospital was chosen to be the model for the television series “ER”, and the façade of the hospital has since become a symbol of Chicago recognized around the world.

A reuse will cause savings on demolition costs, payments from the developer to obtain federal tax credits, additional real estate taxes and rental income.

The taxpayers of Cook County deserve to have the reuse and redevelopment of the old Cook County Hospital fully reviewed before a final determination on the hospital’s future is made.

Related Headlines

Inside the $1B restoration of the old Cook County Hospital, ‘a city unto itself’
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Civic Groups Lay Out Visions For Old Cook County Hospital
Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Old Cook County Hospital: Support for Museum at Site but Not Housing
Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cook County seeking public input on former hospital site
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Chicago Tribune

County aims to tap Chicago firm to manage redevelopment of old hospital
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Crain's Chicago Business

Preckwinkle resurrects plans to redevelop shuttered Cook County Hospital
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Crain's Chicago Business

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