An update of urban development requirements in the Illinois Medical District (IMD) positions Chicago’s Near West Side for faster growth. New zoning regulations support the IMD as an innovation hub and a supportive community for residents to live, work and play.
A public review concluded Oct. 14 when the Chicago City Council approved revisions to the IMD’s Planned Development #30 regulations. The changes advance the IMD’s ability to recruit multifamily and mixed-use development to the Illinois Medical District, anchored by Rush University Medical Center, John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital, the Jesse Brown VA and the University of Illinois Hospital.
“Housing, restaurants and retail are important to recruiting talent and attracting investors to a bustling innovation district,” said Kate Schellinger, Interim Executive Director of the IMD. “Tenants seek a vibrant environment with coffee shops, restaurants and hotels to support their professional workforce and international visitors. Chicago’s collaborative review assures that the IMD retains its competitive edge in a global life sciences real estate marketplace.”
The IMD gives developers a streamlined development approval process. Chicago’s Planned Development #30 revisions set clear standards for the type and scale of real estate in each of the 22 IMD subareas, creating harmonious transitions from block to block.
“Each of the subareas has a unique existing neighborhood context,” said Chris Fahey, Director of Real Estate Operations at IMD. “The revisions allow more overall density for several million more square feet of development, while preserving the community’s unique character.”
The IMD’s development review follows guidelines developed for the 2016 IMD Master Plan in an 18-month public process. With the revisions, the IMD staff review gives developers a fast track to align their plans with Chicago’s benchmarks for affordable housing, minority and women-owned business participation, transit-oriented development and sustainability.
The Near West Side’s standing as a medical campus dates to the late 19th century and was formalized in 1941 when the Illinois Legislature passed the Illinois Medical District Act. In 1964, Chicago set its growth path with the Planned Development #30 zoning rules. The IMD’s 560 acres are roughly bounded by Interstate 290, Ashland Avenue, 15th Street and Oakley Boulevard. The planned development ordinance was last revised in 1997 and the master plan in 2019.