Rush to move offices into former National Republic Bank
June 4, 2017

The former National Republic Bank of Chicago building will become home to Rush University Medical Center offices. (Photo by Mark Valentino)

By Susan S. Stevens

At a recent community meeting, Rush University Medical Center received neighbors’ approval to move offices into the former National Republic Bank of Chicago building at 1201 W. Harrison St., although several expressed concern about the property’s zoning.

“I will work to ensure what we committed to today,” Ald. Jason Ervin (28th Ward) told the 16 area residents who attended a community meeting May 17. He said he would make certain that a zoning change would not hamper residents from rejecting further changes in the property’s use.

Nicholas F. Ftikas, an attorney involved in negotiating the lease, said the lease will run for ten years with an option to renew. Rush will use the building for administrative offices, with most employees working normal business hours. At the meeting, Rush representatives distributed schematic drawings of the building’s exterior and interior. The outside of the red brick three-story building will remain about the same, with entrances and exits to the parking lot as they exist now. The parking lot will not change.

Because of a complicated zoning history and current laws, the site requires a zoning change to permit office use, Ervin said. “We want to keep the zoning as it is,” said Joe Fong, an area resident who brought a petition with more than 30 signatures. He said a variance, not a full zoning change, should allow Rush to use the building. Fong noted the petition’s signers do not object to the Rush occupancy but want their concerns heard if plans change. “We want to have control like we have now,” Fong said.

Ervin replied that the project needs more than a variance, and he explained the City’s complex system to show why. “As it stands now, we will support their application… with a way to insure community input before future changes,” Ervin said.

National Republic Bank occupied the building on the southwest corner of Harrison Street and Racine Avenue from the 1980s until two years ago. The building has been empty since, maintained and marketed for lease by the Patel family, the owners who erected the building.

Taral Patel, who represented his family at the meeting, said the Patels passed up offers from retailers before accepting Rush’s. “We have no intention of selling it,” Ftikas said of the building.

National Republic Bank failed in 2014, and the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency closed the bank and appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as receiver. To protect depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with the State Bank of Texas to assume all of the deposits.

“We want that space occupied,” area resident Bob O’Neill said. “A vacant building is not good for the neighborhood.”

A Rush spokesperson said, “We want to be a good neighbor.” Rush and Ervin addressed other community concerns, noting the current 70-space parking lot will not change. Rush has obtained permission from the University of Illinois at Chicago to use its lot across Racine if it needs additional parking.

Rush does not know yet how many employees will work in the Harrison St. building. Office workers will move from the Rush campus in the Illinois Medical District to the building to free up their current facilities for more clinical space. The parties involved did not disclose how much Rush will in rent. Rush does not plan further expansion east of the main campus, other than a new outpatient center north of Harrison, where workers demolished student housing earlier this year, a Rush spokesperson noted.