We've been hearing a lot of talk lately about infrastructure from the Biden administration, but here's one infrastructure plan that's already underway, taking place on almost 50 acres on Chicago's South Side.
The site, now dubbed "Bronzeville Lakefront," is where the Michael Reese Hospital, opened in 1881 as a Jewish hospital, used to be. So it's only fitting that one of the developments for this area will be a life sciences research facility operated by Israel's Sheba Medical Center. Find out more about what's in store for this $4 billion project.
An estimated $3.1 billion in tax revenue and up to 20,000 jobs are predicted to be a welcomed outcome of this new mixed-use development on an abandoned site -- from 26th Street to 31st Street and from Lake Park Avenue to Vernon Avenue -- an area that's been a financial drain on the city of Chicago for years.
Chicago recently found a buyer for the site -- a group of local developers called GRIT who will be in charge of the project. GRIT bought the site for $96.9 million, but the city is on the hook to provide $60 million for new roads and $30 million to clean up waste left from an old (like almost 100 years old) radium plant.
For history buffs: Radium was all the rage back in those days, and because of its luminous quality, it was used in everything from chocolate to toys to clocks. It was even used to treat cancer. Unfortunately, it turned out that radium is radioactive and leaves a huge toxic mess to clean up.
All hurdles aside, when complete, Bronzeville Lakefront will contain up to 7 million square feet of mixed-income housing, commercial, and institutional development.
Some of the highlights of the development include:
- A life sciences research facility.
- Senior housing.
- A welcome center with a digital museum that tells the rich Bronzeville history.
- 4,800 residential units, 20% of which will be low-income housing.
- Park space.
- Bike lanes.
- New and improved roads.
Developers will also pay $25 million to expand area schools.
Bronzeville Lakefront has been made possible in part by the Olympic Committee's decision to select Rio de Janeiro as host of the 2016 games. You see, in 2008, former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley convinced the city to buy the hospital and the land surrounding it at a cost of $91 million to make an Olympic athletes village in anticipation of Chicago hosting the 2016 games.
The problem? The plan didn't come to fruition, as Chicago wasn't chosen to host the 2016 Olympics -- insert Homer Simpson face-palm doh here -- and the site remained vacant (except for one 72,000-square-foot building) since 2009. This cost the city more than just the purchase price. Over the years, Chicago lost tens of millions of dollars more when you figure carrying costs and lost revenue.
The Millionacres bottom line
It's cause for celebration, as construction work on Bronzeville Lakefront is set to begin later this year or early next year. This project holds the distinction as being "the only multi-billion dollar development planned for a community of color in Chicago," tweeted Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. This project's been a long time coming for the people and investors of Chicago.