Revitalizing the Illinois Medical District through Brownfield Redevelopment

Driving across Chicago’s near west side, past Ashland, south of the Eisenhower Expressway, you see a mix of massive medical facilities peppered with vacant lots and abandoned buildings.

This area, called the Illinois Medical District (IMD), is the largest urban medical district in the nation. Because of the hospitals, clinics, research facilities, and biotechnology companies located here, the IMD is a hub of economic activity, but you wouldn’t know it by driving the streets in the surrounding neighborhoods.

The IMD is located within the Pilsen and North Lawndale neighborhoods. Since its construction in the 1990’s, the IMD has stood as a medical complex without a connection to the surrounding community. There are over 90 acres of vacant land in the IMD that remain unused either due to their brownfield status, location, historical uses, unique characteristics, access, or infrastructure.

Recently, the IMD and local partners have initiated efforts to create a Manufacturing Innovation District in this area to attract medical product companies that can provide support to the medical community and new employment opportunities for Pilsen and North Lawndale residents.

This summer, Delta Institute will partner with the IMD and West Village (an association that includes Cinespace Film Studios, Sinai Health System, A Safe Haven, and Lagunitas Brewing Company) to engage the communities surrounding the IMD in the development of the Manufacturing Innovation District. Our objective is to ensure that the economic development process prioritizes job opportunities for area residents on redeveloped vacant and/or brownfield sites.

The project will build upon existing planning efforts, augmented by brownfield and vacant land research and analysis, to build stakeholder consensus on a vision for their community that includes quality jobs, housing, and transportation. Delta will leverage its 16+ years of experience with urban planning, brownfield redevelopment, and stakeholder facilitation to ensure the successful design and implementation of a Manufacturing Innovation District that benefits local residents and businesses alike.

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