Shovels ready: Michael Reese megaproject inches closer to approval

Farpoint-led mixed-use development at sprawling site clears Plan Commission

Renderings of the Bronzeville Lakefront (Farpoint Development)
Renderings of the Bronzeville Lakefront (Farpoint Development)

The grand plan for a 15 million-square-foot, $6 billion mixed-use campus in Bronzeville is a step closer to breaking ground.

A team of developers led by Farpoint Development won Chicago Plan Commission approval on Thursday for the first phase of the 49-acre redevelopment at the former Michael Reese Hospital site, Crain’s reported. The full City Council could sign off on the measure in the coming days.

That nearly $4 billion Phase 1 effort could begin next year, and would include 1.1 million square feet of new construction, renovations and a park. While the city selected the Farpoint team to develop the site — the group is collectively known as GRIT — it was not known what the taxpayer contribution to the megaproject would be.

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The development’s cost is in line with the two other massive construction projects in Chicago: Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards and Related Midwest’s The 78.

In May, the Farpoint group revealed details of its plans for the sprawling Michael Reese site. The team includes Draper & Kramer, McLaurin Development Partners, Loop Capital, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives and the Bronzeville Community Development Partnership. The first phase will focus on the life sciences industry. A 500,000-square-foot medical building, to be anchored by ARC Innovation Center, would be the crown jewel. Nearby would be retail space, a community center and the park by a new Metra station.

The next phase, on a development site just across from the Metra tracks, calls for 5.5 million square feet of buildings, including apartment towers. The project wouldn’t begin until 2028, and over the course of two decades, could also include workforce housing geared toward the biotech sector. In all, the construction would allow more than 6,700 apartments, with 20 percent set aside as affordable, Crain’s reported.

The Farpoint group has said it intends to seek tax-increment financing toward the construction of the Metra station, with a $175 million price tag. TIF funds are used for infrastructure projects in blighted areas. [Crain’s] — Alexi Friedman