Cook County judge to weigh legal challenge to Prentice plan in January

Susan Du, City Editor

A Cook County judge said today he will decide in January whether to dismiss a lawsuit that has halted Northwestern’s plan to build a new research facility in place of the old Prentice Women’s Hospital.

This afternoon, attorneys representing the city of Chicago asked circuit court Judge Neil Cohen to toss out the legal challenge filed by preservationist groups. The judge granted a temporary demolition stay while the litigation is ongoing, and NU cannot move forward with its plans to tear down the University-owned building.

Oral arguments for motion to dismiss are scheduled for Jan. 11, 2013, according to a news release. In the meantime, preservationists will prepare their arguments to convince the judge to let the case go to trial.

In their lawsuit, preservationists allege that the landmarks commission failed to follow city laws when its members voted Nov. 1 to decline recommending landmark status for the old Prentice Women’s Hospital. City attorneys maintain that the panel followed normal procedure by granting preliminary landmark recommendation following a staff report and then rescinding that recommendation after a report by the Department of Housing and Economic Development.

— Susan Du