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Mayor Emanuel supports Northwestern in Prentice controversy

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he supports Northwestern University’s proposal to build a new research facility on the site of the old Prentice Women’s Hospital.

After months of being silent on the issue, the mayor expressed his views in a Chicago Tribune op-ed piece published online this afternoon.

“The new center will further drive an emerging scientific research hub in the area that currently sustains 4,000 permanent jobs, attracts more than $300 million in federal funds each year, and keeps Chicago as a major center of scientific innovation that will be home to countless discoveries in the future," Mayor Emanuel said.

The mayor called for Northwestern to take certain community requests into consideration including a commitment to preserve other historical buildings in the neighborhood. He also asked the university to use a Chicago-based firm in the design process of the new facility.

Today’s statement was met with frustration from groups who have been trying to protect Prentice.

Johnathan Fine, the executive director of Preservation Chicago, has opposed the plan, and alongside others, has been fighting to get landmark status for Prentice for over a year.

“We’re a little confused and a lot disappointed that a position by the city was taken before the Landmarks Commission had even had a chance to weigh-in on the issue,” Fine said.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks just added Prentice to the agenda for its November 1st meeting.

“Why put it on the agenda if a decision has already been made?” Fine asked.

If the commission grants the building preliminary landmark status, Northwestern’s proposal could be delayed.

Prentice would have a year to be considered for permanent status by the City Council. 

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