Saturday, September 10, 2011

Planning for change at Children's Memorial

In June 2012, Children's Memorial Hospital will be shuttering its site at the intersection of Lincoln and Fullerton, and moving to its new Streeterville home. Plans are already getting underway for redevelopment of the six-acre site, which includes not only the main white brick building, but many of the smaller buildings immediately surrounding it. 

McCaffrey Interests is the developer and Antunovich Associates will be the architects. For an overview of the project and an aerial map of the entire site, see this article in The Architect's Newspaper.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Alderman Michele Smith will hold a town hall meeting at Children's Memorial on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 6:30 pm in the Bigler Auditorium, to allow McCaffrey Interests to introduce themselves to the community, discuss the impact of the development on the surrounding area, and gather initial community input. All members of the public with an interest in the project are encouraged to attend. (Full details from Alderman Smith's newsletter below. Sign up for the newsletters on her website.)

Bicyclist and cars on Lincoln Avenue at the current Children's Memorial Hospital site. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Bike Walk Lincoln Park will be at the town hall meeting. This is a big site that has the potential for being the newest jewel of Lincoln Park. Although it has been beneficial having a world-class pediatric hospital in our neighborhood all these years, the chance to begin anew raises exciting possibilities. We've heard people speak longingly about putting in an arts venue, a boutique hotel, or a permanent marketplace like Pike Street market in Seattle.

We'll be providing Alderman Smith with our recommendations for making sure that whatever is ultimately built is accommodating to bicyclists and pedestrians, and that includes functional details as well as aesthetic. 

The recommendations will include some things to avoid, like long blank walls that "deaden" the sidewalk space and discourage walking. Also, let's not repeat the mistake of designing the site with truck loading docks on Lincoln that force pedestrians and bicyclists into car traffic.

Truck docks and loading zone on Lincoln Avenue at Children's Memorial Hospital. (Photos: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Our recommendations will also include plenty of "do's", of course. This busy intersection is near DePaul University, the Fullerton El stop, and all the theaters, bars and eateries up and down Lincoln Avenue. It has the potential for becoming a new "town center" for Lincoln Park, with new retail and restaurants at street level. 

Let's make sure that people are encouraged to arrive on foot, on bikes, and on public transit. The sidewalks should be wide enough to allow for plenty of room for purposeful walking as well as for strolling, with plantings and benches that give pedestrians a place to relax. 

Halsted and Lincoln are important bicycle commuting routes: It would be great to repaint the bike lanes, perhaps widen them, maybe even make them protected lanes. The new site should have plenty of bike racks, maybe even covered bike parking. 

The busy intersection of Halsted, Fullerton and Lincoln needs better accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Nearby bus stops on Halsted and Fullerton should be upgraded from the current "pole in the ground" to having a bench and a shelter. The six-legged intersection of Lincoln/Halsted/Fullerton is the 11th most dangerous in the city for pedestrians, and it should receive full evaluation to make it safer for those crossing it on foot or on bike. 

Details like these matter. Now is the time to make your voice heard. Someone once said that it takes a place to build a community, and it takes a community to build a place. Let's make this a great one.

* This post was edited on September 13, 2011 to reflect that Antunovich Associates will be the architects, and not HOK, as previously reported.

Town Hall Meeting
Children's Memorial Hospital Development
September 14, 2011
6:30 p.m.
Bigler Auditorium at Children's Memorial Hospital
2300 Children's Plaza

I've promised that the development process for the Children's Memorial site will be transparent and data driven.  That means we need to understand the impact Children's has on the neighborhood today so we can compare it to the impact of any future proposal. 
I've asked Children's Memorial and the new developer, McCaffrey Interests, to bring this information to you:
  • Impact of the hospital on our community today
  • Impact on revenue for local businesses that we patronize
  • Current "base line" traffic data
  • Review of community input to date from HOK, which held three community meetings in 2009
  • Introduction of McCaffery Interests, the developer of the site, and their work both locally and nationally
  • My requirements for community feedback on the site's development plans as they unfold
  • Timeline for consideration of the development plans
  • Your thoughts on future development plans
We look forward to seeing you on September 14th!

Please note: NO DEVELOPMENT PLAN will be presented - this meeting is a review of work to date, and important information for the community.

  *The entrance to Bigler Auditorium is accessible from the main hospital driveway, directly across from the main entrance.


  1. Anything interesting come from the meeting?

  2. It was an informative overview of the current site, and general visions for the future. We heard from representatives from Children's, the LP Chamber of Commerce, and local business owners about how much the staff and visitors to Children's Memorial currently contribute to the local economy (average of $17 million a year), and how that loss will be acutely felt. (Buy local, everyone! Support your neighborhood businesses!) We heard general presentations from McCaffrey Interests and Antunovich Associates. Overall, it was a good way for interested parties to meet and greet, and pledge to work together to make sure the finished product is beneficial for everyone. -- Michelle Stenzel

  3. Thanks for covering this important development in the future of Lincoln Park. The opportunities abound!

  4. McCaffrey Interests has established a website on which they'll be posting updates.