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DePaul purchases Children's Memorial Hospital building

By Paige Wagenknecht
On February 20, 2012

DePaul will expand the Lincoln Park campus after Children's Memorial Hospital moves to a new location, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, which opens June 9, 2012, at 225 E. Chicago Ave.

The university announced last week that it purchased the hospital's three-story building located at 759 W. Belden Ave., on the southeast corner of Belden Ave. and Halsted St.

The building currently contains administrative offices for the hospital. Plans for the building's use for DePaul are expected to include academic use, but other options are currently being considered.

"It's almost certainly going to be an academic building and we are looking into the possibility of making the new home for the College of Education," Executive Vice President Bob Kozoman said. "We are in the preliminary stages of working through how that might be configured to serve them well. It will certainly see a quantity of faculty offices and administrative space and some quantity of classrooms."

Kozoman said Children's Memorial reached out to university president Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M. (during late fall, early winter) and asked if the university would be interested in talking about a possible sale of the building. When the hospital initially went on the market and opened up for bids from developers, the Belden and Halsted building was not included in the bid package.

The exterior of the building will remain essentially the same once DePaul occupies the space.

"This building caught our eye many years ago, by the outside appearance it actually kind of looks like it could be a DePaul building in terms of style and the red brick and limestone accents and all," Kozomon said. "We have never been secretive about thinking it was a nice building or a good use for DePaul."

According to Kozoman, Children's Memorial and DePaul settled quickly on what they believed to be a fair price. The sales contract for the building is contingent only on successful rezoning. The building currently resides in part of the Children's Memorial development and needs to be rezoned to be incorporated into DePaul's separate development zoning package.

"When pieces of [property] need to be pulled out and sold to a different entity you have to go back through the whole city planning process and apply for stand alone zoning. We don't expect it to be a problem but it takes some level of time," Kozoman said.

DePaul and Children's Memorial will work closely with 43rd ward Alderman Michele Smith to secure new zoning for the building. Public meetings will also take place so community residents can learn and provide input on the plans.

"DePaul University has proven itself to be an excellent neighbor and we are excited about their acquisition of this building from Children's Memorial Hospital," Ald. Smith said.

According to the announcement that went out to the university, "Children's Memorial and DePaul have a history of collaborative efforts in support of the Lincoln Park community."

The university plans to close on the transaction sometime between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2012, if the rezoning process is successful. If the transaction closes during that time period, Kozoman said the property would undergo about a three month internal renovation project to convert it for DePaul's use and occupancy. If everything goes according to plan, DePaul will be moved into the building sometime between February and May of 2013.

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