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City Seeking Bids To Redevelop Long-Vacant Michael Reese Hospital Site

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It was once one of Chicago's greatest medical centers, but Michael Reese Hospital was torn down in 2011, after sitting vacant for three years, and now the land where it once stood is being targeted for a major redevelopment.

The old hospital site in Bronzeville could become home to a hotel, restaurants, shopping, and new apartments and condos; meaning thousands of new jobs on the South Side. The Emanuel administration is hoping to move quickly to get a developer to buy the site, which is costing the city millions.

The city purchased the site in 2009, with aims of using it as part of an Olympic village as it bid for the 2016 Olympics, but it has sat unused ever since, after the city lost the summer games to Rio de Janeiro.

The city still owes $73 million in principal on a $91 million loan used to buy the site, with $50 million in added interest if the loan is not paid off by 2024.

City officials have begun moving forward with plans for a mixed-use development on the site. A 2013 study done by the city found that a $6.5 million square foot redevelopment project of the site would create more than 3,000 full time jobs.

Chicago Planning Commissioner David Reifman said there already is a great deal of interest, which

"This is almost 80 acres on the lake, immediately south of downtown. With the development we're seeing on the South Side, the [Obama] Presidential Center going further south in Jackson Park, I think it's the missing link to significant lakefront development on the South Side," he said.

Reifman said members of the surrounding communities have told the city what they'd like to see built there.

"There's a significant interest in good jobs here," he said. "This will have a mix of uses, commercial uses, hopefully hotel uses, residential, the ability for amenities like open space and other things like that."

People who live nearby have hinted they'd like to see a mix of food and shopping.

"I think it would enhance the community, because they need even more sit down restaurants around here, instead of all these fast food ones," Bronzeville resident Veronica Dixon-Edwards said.

Fellow Bronzeville resident Will Pennix said commercial development is badly needed on the South Side.

City officials will begin hearing formal proposals for the site in the winter, with final submissions due in February.

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