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Emanuel To Lighten Load On Michael Reese Hospital Debt, Again

Chicago Land
Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago, before its 2009 demolition

The Michael Reese Hospital campus has been an albatross around Chicago's budgetary neck for nearly a decade. Yesterday, the City Council Finance Committee approved a plan by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to refinance the debt load on the 49-acre site.

Emanuel's predecessor, Richard Daley, borrowed $85M to buy the site in 2008, as a linchpin to Chicago's failed bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics that eventually were awarded to Rio. The Reese site was to be the Olympic Village, and would be flipped over to developers after. The debt on the site grew to $96M by 2013, forcing the city to make payments on the loan, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The refinancing would save taxpayers $4.2M and also give the city some breathing room, while it continues to collect proposals for redeveloping the site. Those are due by Feb. 22, and the winning bid will be announced on April 6. The site has been floated in recent years as a possible home for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, the Obama Presidential Library and, most notably, a Chicago casino. [S-T]