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Editorial: Give future embattled buildings a chance

The old Prentice Women's Hospital building 333 E. Superior Street Chicago Sunday October 28 2012.  I John H. White~Sun-Times

The old Prentice Women's Hospital building, 333 E. Superior Street in Chicago, Sunday, October 28, 2012. I John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 2, 2013 6:55AM

On Friday, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks posted a Feb. 7 agenda that includes this interesting item: It has changed its mind and will follow its own rules, after all.

That’s not how the agenda item was worded, of course. It just lists the old Prentice Women’s Hospital, which preservationists want to save and owner Northwestern University wants to replace with a research facility.

On Nov. 1, the commission granted — and promptly revoked — preliminary landmark status for Prentice, cutting short its own hearing process. Cook County Judge Neil Cohen called the move “arbitrary” and “not transparent.”

Chastised, the commission has decided to let the hearing process run its proper course. Preservationists will make their full case, and Northwestern will present a more thorough rebuttal than it has up to now.

Nobody should put their money on Prentice. But maybe the commission’s newly discovered respect for playing by the rules will give the next contested building a fighting chance.

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