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Hoping County pulls through

Thursday, January 22, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Editorial

Today, the Cook County Board will vote on whether to approve a contract to demolish the old Cook County Hospital. At this writing, the vote looked to be very close, but Commissioner Larry Suffredin, a leader in the fight against the wrecking ball, was confident his side would prevail. We certainly hope so. It would be bad enough to see this unique piece of Chicago history -- and this unique opportunity to do something good for the surrounding community -- fall to County Board President John Stroger's obstinate need to 86 the edifice. Seeing a mere vote or two trigger such a wrongheaded and fiscally impractical decision would make it more regrettable.

In spite of Stroger's efforts to throw obstacles in the path of developers, three solid proposals for transforming County into a mix of residential and retail units, medical offices and clinic have emerged. In due course, the converted structure would be back on the tax rolls, generating income for the county. Tearing it down, on the other hand, would cost upwards of $12 million.

That price tag doesn't begin to factor in the emotional cost of losing this piece of architecture and the vision it represents. But if sentiment isn't enough to get the board to rip up the demolition contract, the promise of a bright and practical new future for County certainly is.



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