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CHICAGO-A $130-million children’s hospital will be built by University of Chicago Hospitals on land it owns at 5801 S. Ellis Ave. After receiving a favorable recommendation from the Chicago plan commission, the project is expected to be approved by the city council.

The development was aided by a $21-million donation from Gary Comer, founder of the Dodgeville, WI-based Land’s End direct-marketing clothing retailer. Plans have been in the works for more than four years, says attorney Langdon Neal, to replace an overcrowded and outdated children’s facility operated by University of Chicago Hospitals.

Construction could begin by the end of August, says Michael Koetting, vice president of planning for University of Chicago Hospitals. The new facility promises to be “ultra-modern yet child-friendly,” Neal says.

The new 240,000-sf hospital would replace a cluster of vacant single-family homes and two-flats, as well as one four-story building. Besides having state-of-the-art medical technology, it also will have facilities for families staying with their children, such as a laundry.

Comer is a South Side native, whose philanthropic efforts have included donating computers and paying for private police protection for his former elementary school.

University of Chicago Hospitals has 890 licensed beds in its facilities, which include a cancer research center, brain research pavilion, aeromedical network and Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine. Eleven Nobel Prize winners in medicine or physiology are affiliated with the hospitals, which pioneered nuclear medicine, discovered a treatment for lymphomas and leukemia in mustard gas and helped the US Army develop a treatment for maleria.

“This is a wonderful facility not only for the people in my community, but for the entire South Side,” says Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, whose 4th Ward boundary falls short of the hospital site.

Preckwinkle’s ward does include the Murray Language Academy, which is expected to get a new gym and recreational facilities as part of two additions to its Hyde Park building at 5335 S. Kenwood Ave. The plan commission recommended approval of the addition, which also would be used by the Chicago Park District. It will help increase the student population from 350 to 500 and staff from 32 to 40.

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