Additional demolition work is expected to begin before the end of the year at the former Michael Reese Hospital campus, the Public Building Commission (PBC) announced today.
This additional work will include taking down the administration building, parking structure and the 103-year-old main hospital building. The historic Singer Pavilion will remain on the site.
The decision to take down these three structures was made after it was determined that the cost to maintain them is too great in this challenging economy and that the main hospital building poses a significant safety risk.
Like many of the buildings on the site that have already been taken down, the administration building and main hospital structure have suffered from years of neglect and abandonment and are in very poor condition.
In order to save the remaining properties, the City would have to spend a significant amount of money to stabilize the existing structures. Additionally, costs would be incurred each year to secure and maintain them.
Cost projections, including estimates from an independent consultant retained by the PBC, show that the total cost to stabilize the main hospital building would be approximately $13.2 million. In addition to this amount, the City would continue to face recurring annual costs for utilities, security, and maintenance.
“The Chicago Fire Department, following an inspection of the main hospital building, determined that it posed an actual and imminent danger to the public and recommended it be demolished,” said Erin Lavin Cabonargi, Executive Director, PBC. “The main hospital building was in very poor condition when the city purchased the former hospital campus site in 2009 and the building has continued to deteriorate.”
The roof, which was already in very poor condition while the hospital was still open, has begun to cave in and water continues to leak into the building causing mold and other unsafe conditions. Neighbors have expressed concern over mildew and air quality.
Additionally, despite the best efforts of the City to keep squatters out of the building and from stripping the property for salvage and resale, they have continued to occupy the building and violate the law.
The Chicago Police Department has made 14 arrests since July alone for burglary, theft and trespassing on site.
Competitive prices were sought by the PBC for the abatement and demolition of the old main hospital. The lowest cost for this scope of work will be recommended for award and the Board of the PBC will be asked to approve a change order to an existing contract for the expanded scope of work at its next meeting.
The Michael Reese Hospital campus stretches from roughly 26th Street on the north to 31st Street and Vernon Avenue on the west to the Illinois Central Railroad tracks and Lake Park Avenue to the east.
The city purchased the former hospital campus June 30, 2009 from Medline, Inc. As part of the sale, Medline agreed to fund $32.5 million in charitable contributions for the site demolition and improvements.
The 37-acre site is to be redeveloped and the city is still working to finalize plans for the next step in the redevelopment of the site.