Even though one alderman has publicly suggested the city use eminent domain to acquire the necessary land needed to build a proposed $1.1 billion Olympic Village on the South Side, city officials said they’re better off re-negotiating than undergoin
Even though one alderman has publicly suggested the city use eminent domain to acquire the necessary land needed to build a proposed $1.1 billion Olympic Village on the South Side, city officials said they’re better off re-negotiating than undergoing such a daunting procedure. “There’s a lot that goes on with eminent domain, and I am not so sure it is worth going through to acquire the Michael Reese site, especially if it can be worked out through re-negotiations,” said Pete Scales, director of communications for the city’s Planning & Development Department. “I do know the city plans to re-negotiate with the property owner Medline Industries for the site and is looking at all options should re-negotiations fail. But I do not believe eminent domain is one of them.” Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, whose 4th Ward includes the 37-acre Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center campus, 2929 S. Ellis Ave., said the city should do whatever it takes to acquire the property including condemning it. For his part, Mayor Richard M. Daley said he is optimistic about re-negotiations but made clear he would not make taxpayers pay more the for the property and is open to other locations. “In negotiations, you have to play hardball. You cannot be weak in regards to any negotiations,” he said. “You can’t give up on it. If that doesn’t (work), you look at other sites as well.” After the city learned demolition and environmental cleanup costs have now reached $32 million, $12 million more than its original estimate and that it would have to cover any rising costs, it began re-negotiating its original deal with the property owner. Plans for the Olympic Village include constructing up to 7,500 permanent units and 1,000 hotel rooms that could be converted into residences, as part of the city hosting the 2016 Olympics. ______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.