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Old June 18th, 2005, 10:54 PM   #1
The Urban Politician
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Chicago River Walk Development News

From Crain's:

City bites off new river dining plans
Absent more funding, a vibrant promenade will take time to develop

June 20, 2005
By Shruti Daté Singh

Chef Didier Durand is interested in reopening a restaurant along the Chicago River. Photo: John R. Boehm

The city's far-reaching plan to develop a promenade of restaurants and shops along the Chicago River may turn into a piecemeal approach.

The city has struggled to secure federal funding, as well as private developers, to create a vibrant riverwalk along Lower Wacker Drive between Lake Street and Michigan Avenue.

Now the city is looking at other options to bring restaurants to the waterfront before the full project comes to fruition, says a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the riverwalk project.



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The department expects to release a request for proposals in the next two months to attract a single restaurant to the Wabash Plaza Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Lower Wacker. However, it wants a temporary eatery, which could open by early 2006, in the spot between Wabash Avenue and State Street because it's not sure how the other parts of the riverwalk will take shape.

The $4.3-million Wabash Plaza site was financed through a mix of federal, state and local money.

A handful of seasonal cafes had successfully operated along the riverside until Wacker Drive reconstruction began in 2002, and the city wants to bring back that vibrancy, says the Transportation Department spokesman.

"Our goal is to secure the funding within the next few years (and) begin construction this decade. It could be done in pieces," the spokesman adds. "We are trying to get back restaurants even before the entire riverwalk is completed."

"I would love to be included," says chef Didier Durand, owner of Cyrano's Bistrot. He first opened up Cyrano's Café & Wine Bar on Lower Wacker between State and Dearborn Street in 2000. During the construction, he moved the seasonal cafe down the street between Michigan and Columbus Drive; he closed it in September 2003.

"I am waiting for them to approach me to do business," Mr. Durand says. "There is a demand. People want to eat outside."

Lalo's Riverwalk Café, which served margaritas and Mexican entrees on the river between 2000 and 2002, covered its costs within an hour or two each day, says Daniel Castaneda, vice-president of operations for North Riverside-based Lalo's Hospitality Group.

"(Riverside dining) is an option that a lot of people might be craving," Mr. Castaneda says. "If it's ever reintroduced, it will be an instant hit."

Of course, the riverbanks already boast some popular dining spots, such as Japonais and Smith & Wollensky, but these restaurants say they want more neighbors.

"There's more of a demand than a supply. I think that's one of the reasons for the popularity of our lounge," says Sandy Park, director of operations for Japonais, along the North Branch of the Chicago River at 600 W. Chicago Ave.

"The best thing that could happen to us is to have a really good restaurant open next to us," says Patrick Norton, general manager of Smith & Wollensky, along the north riverbank near State Street. "The area becomes a place to go. Look at what happened to River North."

Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a Chicago-based tax policy group, says that compared with other cities, Chicago's downtown river doesn't seem to get as much as attention.

"The hope is they will return the cafes and other temporary dining opportunities that we enjoyed a few years ago," he says. Mr. Msall says the river has been overshadowed by development along the lakefront.

Dennis Lombardi, executive vice-president of food-service strategies for Columbus, Ohio-based restaurant design and development firm WD Partners, says the river certainly is an underused amenity, but he says infrastructure and accessibility issues have been challenges in the past.

The city says that as part of the Wacker Drive reconstruction, the city built in the infrastructure to open restaurants and shops by the riverside.

"It's a multiyear endeavor," the Transportation Department spokesman says of the riverwalk development. "It is moving as quickly as these types of projects can move."
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 07:55 AM   #2
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You guys suck....

I'm taking this article over to SSP
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 09:36 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Urban Politician
You guys suck....
Yeah!!
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 09:49 AM   #4
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accualy what sucks is that a development like this is going to take way to long for it to come into fruition! i want my river walk now!!

plus once it realy starts becomming a cool place to walk , i want to start a gondola service whith the dude dressed up with the black and white striped shirt and the whole gettup , also with the music.basicly who whole package.i think i can make a fortune on that .
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 06:35 PM   #5
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Until the gondola gets run over by the 10513241 tour boats on the river
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Old July 8th, 2005, 04:44 AM   #6
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link to wabash plaza info with a rendering. i wish there could be more nightlife involved with the riverwalk though.
http://www.nvvam.org/events/vote.htm
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Old July 8th, 2005, 03:42 PM   #7
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^OK they seem to be working with a rather limited palette there...
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Old July 8th, 2005, 05:32 PM   #8
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The rendering of Vietnam Veterans' memorials is.............bland.......... It kinda looks like the end of back alley.

Chicago should hire Mai Ling to do correction. That would be a great addition to our legacy of starchitects.
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Old July 9th, 2005, 12:16 AM   #9
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Whew! We Korean War vets just dodged another bullet.
__________________
You truly want peace? Be righteous.
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Old July 9th, 2005, 02:09 PM   #10
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Last night, James Ward, Ch 7's restaurant critic, reviewed Sorrioso's as the best place in the city for outdoor dining. Sorrios's is on the north banks of the main branch, I believe at Clark. I was there a couple of years ago and the food was mediocre although Ward said it was much better now, under new management.

My post is not about the quality of the food. It's about the views. A river deck with dazzling views day and night. The riverfront is an unbelievable asset for Chicago, an unmatched river anywhere in the world that flows throuh a man made canyon, a human version of what the Colorado is for nature through the GC.

Can you imagine when the amenity that is will be the River Walk is developed....and you can walk, uninterupted by streets to the core of the city with eye-popping up close skyline views you'd never get from Lake Michigan. We'll reach a point where the two best waterfronts in the nation....Lake Michigan and the Chicago River....will both be in Chicago.

Wouldn't you love to see an event like the Gold Coast Art Fair moved to the Riverwalk when it is completed?
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Old July 9th, 2005, 08:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edsg25
Last night, James Ward, Ch 7's restaurant critic, reviewed Sorrioso's as the best place in the city for outdoor dining. Sorrios's is on the north banks of the main branch, I believe at Clark. I was there a couple of years ago and the food was mediocre although Ward said it was much better now, under new management.

My post is not about the quality of the food. It's about the views. A river deck with dazzling views day and night. The riverfront is an unbelievable asset for Chicago, an unmatched river anywhere in the world that flows throuh a man made canyon, a human version of what the Colorado is for nature through the GC.

Can you imagine when the amenity that is will be the River Walk is developed....and you can walk, uninterupted by streets to the core of the city with eye-popping up close skyline views you'd never get from Lake Michigan. We'll reach a point where the two best waterfronts in the nation....Lake Michigan and the Chicago River....will both be in Chicago.

Wouldn't you love to see an event like the Gold Coast Art Fair moved to the Riverwalk when it is completed?

^Good point, Edsg. The building of the Trump and Waterview Towers should help frame the Riverwalk better. Perhaps a bit more development along Wolf Point will help. Lets also not forget the framing of Wacker Drive along LakewhoreEast (I spelled it that way on purpose ). My guess is the grand Riverwalk we all drool about won't exist in its entirety for another 15 years. But I agree--it would be an amazing place to hold art fairs.
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Old July 9th, 2005, 11:46 PM   #12
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Just a throwaway comment -- I would rather wait 20 years to see Wolf Point get developed with a masterpiece than five years for a decent, but not spectacular building there. That site is too valuable to throw away on anything less than perfection.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 03:49 AM   #13
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i thought that it has already started? i could have sworn that i saw a sign for it on wacker when i took the bus yesterday
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Old July 14th, 2005, 06:54 PM   #14
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you thought what had already started? The riverwalk? If so, yes, it's been under construction (on and off) for a couple of years.
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Old August 3rd, 2005, 02:09 AM   #15
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Mayor Daley Releases Chicago River Agenda
Mayor Richard M. Daley today released the Chicago River Agenda, which charts a course for continued efforts to improve what is becoming known as Chicago’s Second Shoreline.


The document reviews the City’s successes in recent years in cleaning the river and making it more accessible to the public, and it lays out specific steps to continue the improvements well into the future.


“We have rescued the Chicago River from decades of neglect and are well on the way toward turning it into Chicago’s Second Shoreline – where it’s contributing to our ever-improving quality of life,” Daley told an audience at Ping Tom Park, 300 W. 19th St., one of several new riverfront parks that have been created in recent years.


He added: “I want Chicago to be the most environmentally friendly city in America, and the Chicago River Agenda is an important part of that goal. A cleaner, greener, and more accessible Chicago River will help make Chicago an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”


The River Agenda calls for:


• Developing 46 more acres of river-edge parkland by 2010.


• Restoring three more miles of public riverbank by 2010.


• Continuing work toward completion of a multi-use trail along the entire 28-mile river system.


• Developing the Main Branch (downtown) Riverwalk as a unique urban destination with year-round concessions and amenities that highlight the river as an important natural and cultural resource.


• Eliminating three sewer outlets into the river by 2007 and six more by 2010.



• Implementing a screening program for sewer outlets and increasing the use of boats to remove debris from the river.


• Working with the federal government to fund the Deep Tunnel project to completion.


• Requiring developments near the river to separate their storm and sanitary sewers and filter their stormwater.


• Encouraging the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to come up with cost-effective techniques to disinfect water entering the river.


• Finding new ways to decontaminate river sediment.


• Starting at least two in-stream wetland projects to improve river habitat by 2010.


• Investigating ways of modifying the North Branch Dam so fish can pass through.


• Stepping up efforts to keep invasive species out of the river.


• Encouraging community stewardship efforts on the river.


• Creating a management entity for the riverfront trail and an improvement fund for drain maintenance and capital projects.


• Starting an education campaign on boating safety.


• Launching a public planning process for revitalization efforts along Bubbly Creek, the south fork of the river on the western edge of the Bridgeport community.


• Developing a dock policy and establishing zones to improve river traffic management.


• Promoting a strong, diversified industrial base in the industrial corridor of the river.


Among the accomplishments mentioned in the report:


• The City and Chicago Park District have added over 34 acres of new riverfront parkland and over 12 miles of public riverfront trail in the last decade, while improving the ecology of the river and its banks.


• The City has adopted a plan calling for a continuous trail system along at least one side of the entire river.


• City ordinances promote public access to the river and require at least 30 feet of open space between any new development and the riverbank.


• In the last 30 years, the number of species of fish in the river has increased from 10 to 68.


• The City and Chicago Park District have restored riverbanks in several riverfront parks and at City-owned facilities along the river.


• The first phase of the riverwalk along the Main Branch of the river, which includes a memorial plaza for Vietnam veterans, will be completed this November. The City is completing engineering work for the remainder of the project, which received $480,000 of funding from the transportation bill that is being approved by Congress this weekend.


Daley also announced a series of events designed to attract more people to the river.


• This Monday through Thursday, Loop workers can spend their lunch hour at the Chicago River Fishing Derby.


• On Friday, Olympic gold medalists will race through downtown in a rowing regatta.


• Next Sunday, August 7, the public is invited to enter the Flatwater Classic canoe and kayak race, which ends in Ping Tom Park.


The Mayor urged Chicagoans to do their part to improve the river, by working with groups like Friends of the Chicago River, and by disconnecting downspouts and using rain barrels to keep storm water out of the sewer system.
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Old August 29th, 2005, 09:11 AM   #16
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Wish I had brought out my new cellphone today, because I walked along Wacker Drive on the way to school and went past the corner of Wabash and Wacker. The Vietnam War Memorial construction is in full bloom, as the many forumers who frequent the Trump digsite can attest. Althouch completely overshadowed by its nearby collosus, this is a great first step towards the development of a full fledged Riverwalk, it fits well in the location, and its a vast improvement over the vacant lot that was there since the reopening of Wacker Drive.

Frankly, there's some HOT construction going on in that little triangle. Trump Tower to the Northeast, Museum of BroadCast Communications to the Northwest, and the Vietnam War Memorial to the South. All within three blocks of each other, none of which come at the expense of any existing pieces of (worthwhile) construction.

Of course, if Waterview and Kirkland's new palace get built, along with MoMo and Block 37, you'd be talking about a building boom unrivaled in the post WW-II era.

And here I thought the recent additions to Wacker Drive were impressive.
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Old August 30th, 2005, 08:57 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicagoLover
Just a throwaway comment -- I would rather wait 20 years to see Wolf Point get developed with a masterpiece than five years for a decent, but not spectacular building there. That site is too valuable to throw away on anything less than perfection.
I think a lot of people would agree with you about the quality of the site. I'm not sure I'm one.

Let me explain. The placement of the S-T/Appareal Mart bldg. is about right. The area to the south of it should be kept open. No structure (even a parking deck) belogns there. This should be open land to enjoy the views of the three branches of the river coming together. A building at this site cuts into the corridor view alignment of the main branch. In that sense, the Wolf Point location currently occuplied by the building is not that key.

To me, the far more dramatic location is where Riverbend is...as well as what will be built due south of it. What I would have loved to have seen would have been a building of the quality of the Board of Trade at the west end of the corridor created by the main branch of the river, the river serving the same role that LaSalle St does to the CBOT.
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Old August 31st, 2005, 07:16 PM   #18
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^ Hmmm... its hard for me to evaluate it as only my heart is in Chicago, as I am physically in central PA. I know you know Chicago a lot better than I do. Part of my concern relates to the Apparel Center. I don't know of an uglier building in Chicago. Its ugliness is pronounced in large part due to its prominent location on the river, next to one of the most magnificent buildings in the world, the Mart. I am dying to see something cover that up.

What about a low-rise structure that would not completely obscure the buildings across the river when looking west from down the main branch? I've had dreams about a startlingly scuptural building at that site that could house a jazz museum or an architecture museum.

I agree that the site of Riverbend is more dramatic in that it forms the end of the vista right now. I was surprised that Lynn Becker praised the design of that building. I think its a decent design, but I would agree that that location demands more.
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Old August 31st, 2005, 11:25 PM   #19
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Oh, it's ugly all right, but my point was it is far less promient than given credit.

The most important part of the Wolf Point setting is the section that juts southward, and I would love to see it as parkland.
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Old September 3rd, 2005, 07:43 PM   #20
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Just a couple of thoughts:

I love RiverBend. I think it's an absolutely perfect shape and finish for the site, although I wouldn't have minded a bit more height.

As far as development on Wolf Point goes... I'm all for it. Something could be erected there in the manner that the Legacy at Millennium Park is being considered: tall and VERY thin from north to south. Basically, the building ends up being almost non-existent when being viewed from the east or west, yet, could do a magnificent job of hiding the atrocity that is the Apparel Center when being viewed from the south.
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