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Old January 19th, 2006, 11:57 PM   #61
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http://www.chicagotribune.com/busine...i-business-hed

Early finish funded for addition at McCormick
West Building speedup for July '07 opening

By Kathy Bergen

Tribune staff reporter
Published January 19, 2006

The West Building addition to McCormick Place will open eight months ahead of schedule, in July 2007, under an accelerated construction schedule that will boost the cost of the project by $3 million.

"It's a small additional investment to have an additional eight months to bring in business," said Leticia Peralta Davis, chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which owns and operates the massive convention center. The speed-up was authorized by the authority's board late last week and was made possible, in part, because of good weather conditions.

Overall, the project will cost $882 million, or close to 4 percent more than the $849 million specified in the construction contract.

About one-third of the additional cost will pay for a storm water tunnel, which the City of Chicago originally had planned to fund separately. And the remaining sum will cover upgrades to high-tech cables for video conferencing and to the piping for steam and chilled water, Davis said.

The add-ons fall within the approximately $52 million available for contingencies, she said.

The West Building, with 250,000 square feet of meeting space and 470,000 square feet of exhibition space, is designed to attract meetings with associated exhibits, rather than trade shows.

Association and corporate meetings tend to be planned several years in advance, but the authority is hoping the accelerated opening will allow it to land some shorter-range corporate meetings.

"It may allow them to slot in a New Orleans conference that couldn't be hosted, or maybe a last-minute booking," said Ted Mandigo, an Elmhurst-based hospitality consultant who tracks the convention business.

But the biggest gain, he said, "is more of a perception, or an image, of an ability to deliver. A reassurance to those who have booked into the new facility."

As to the cost overruns, he called them "very reasonable."

"I've seen a lot worse," he said. "And given that Hurricane Katrina has raised the cost of construction materials substantially, and put pressure on all the labor trades, this is an indication of pretty good management of this construction project."

The project was financed with $1.1 billion in bonds, backed by pier authority taxes on tourism-related businesses, and when those are insufficient, by state sales taxes.

Due to the slump in travel post-9/11, tourism taxes have been insufficient to meet the obligations, and the authority has had to use about $29 million in bond funding reserves to make payments, Davis said. This should bring the reserve balance to less than $1 million when the fiscal year ends June 30. So far, the authority has not had to tap any state sales tax.

The authority is considering refinancing the debt to reduce its annual obligation, but has not pursued that option yet. With the recovery in the travel business, tourism-related tax receipts are trending upward, Davis said.

At this point, she said, it's uncertain whether the trend will boost tourism taxes sufficiently to meet bond obligations in the coming fiscal year.
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Old January 19th, 2006, 11:59 PM   #62
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Latest museum attendance: Shedd is No. 1

Published January 19, 2006, 2:59 PM CST

A coalition of 10 Chicago museums recorded a total of more than 7.6 million guests during 2005, an increase of 3 percent over attendance in 2004, officials announced Thursday.

"Even though several museums had major exhibits close during the year, attendance overall was strong, reflecting a steady rebound in tourism in Chicago," said Jacqueline Atkins, executive director of Museums In the Park, which consists of the 10 museums located on Chicago Park District property.

Atkins said that for the fourth consecutive year, the John G. Shedd Aquarium, which celebrated its 75th anniversary last year, had the highest attendance of the coalition, with 1.88 million guests. That figure made the Shedd the nation's most heavily attended aquarium and Chicago's most popular cultural attraction of the year.

The Museum of Science and Industry posted the largest attendance increase, 40 percent, drawing more than 1.8 million visitors with special exhibitions on the human body and video games, plus the opening of its new home for its restored World War II German submarine, the U-505.

The Art Institute of Chicago attracted 1.45 million visitors in 2005, partly due to the popularity of the traveling show, "Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre," which opened in July, and its recently consolidated Gallery of American Art.

The 10 Museums In the Park members are: the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, the Art Institute, the Chicago Historical Society, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Field Museum, the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the Shedd Aquarium.
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Old January 21st, 2006, 12:09 AM   #63
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I agree....wow. Never though I'd say that before

http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel...l=chi-news-hed

Park backers decry extra pier parking

By Charles Sheehan

Tribune staff reporter
Published January 20, 2006

Of all the ambitious changes proposed last week for Navy Pier, from a massive water park to roller coasters and a monorail, what most unnerves park advocates and community groups are new parking spaces--too many, they say.

The design firm hired by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority proposed nearly doubling the number of parking spots from 1,700 by building floating lots north of Navy Pier and another lot in what is now a grassy area to the southwest.

Opponents of that plan say, "if you build it, they will come," referring to the thousands of cars they believe will travel through downtown neighborhoods to get to Navy Pier if there is more parking.

Pier officials, however, say the current situation has led to huge backups as people drive through downtown to the pier, then back into the city when they can't find parking.

"It's a chronic problem, the congestion that occurs as people drive around and around looking for parking, and then they drive back into the city," said Leticia Peralta Davis, chief executive officer of McPier.

In letters sent this week to McPier officials, the mayor and political representatives, the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents asked pier officials to abandon parking spaces in favor of more free shuttles.

"We like many aspects of the plan, but we feel strongly that parking is not a solution," said Gail Spreen, president of the Neighbors Action Task Force, a part of the Streeterville organization. "Development must follow transit."

About 1 million people each year use free trolleys to get to Navy Pier, but rising fuel and maintenance costs have become a larger burden, Davis said.

A week ago, McPier released details of a proposal to spend millions revamping Navy Pier.

The proposal includes a larger Ferris wheel, closer to the size of the original built for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition; a monorail that would travel the length of the pier; and an 80,000-square-foot water park.

The proposal also includes two floating parking lots north of the pier that would be built to resemble an aircraft carrier and a steamship, part of designer Forrec Ltd.'s desire to tie today's Navy Pier to its nautical past.

Forrec suggested another parking lot be built in a grassy area southwest of the pier. The lot would be partly underground and topped by a sculpture garden.

No matter what form new parking lots might take, they would create traffic headaches for everyone, said Erma Tranter, president of Friends of the Parks.

"There are 9 million people that go to Navy Pier annually, and there are 1,700 parking spaces. That suggests to me that parking has not been a deterrent," she said. "The idea of doubling parking would create a problem that does not yet exist."

Lack of parking is the most common complaint of visitors, Davis said.

Friends of the Parks and community groups suggest that the drive to boost attendance infringes on city dwellers. They wonder whether pier officials are trying to do too much with a limited amount of space.

"They've maintained a nice balance in the past, but with [plans for] the roller coasters, the water park and everything else, you have to ask, How many amusement park attractions are too much?" Spreen said. "They need to remember that people go to Navy Pier because it is on the lake."

McPier will likely vote this year on whether to approve all or some of the design proposals.

If all proposals are accepted, it could take three to seven years to complete.

Pier officials said they would not discuss how redevelopment would be paid for until a feasibility study can better determine the actual cost.
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Old January 21st, 2006, 12:10 AM   #64
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Changing history in Chicago

By Charles Storch

Published January 20, 2006

It's not only the galleries at the Chicago Historical Society that are being renovated, but the name of the institution itself.

A society spokeswoman said Thursday that there will be a "rebranding" to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the institution and the scheduled reopening of the galleries, both this fall. Sources said the name will be slightly teased, with the somewhat off-putting "society" dropped for a more welcoming "museum" or "center."

The spokeswoman declined to comment except to say that the new moniker and anniversary plans are set to be revealed Feb. 10.

------------

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed

Renovation of Biograph is not quite a total victory

By Chris Jones

Tribune arts critic
Published January 20, 2006

"You'd think you could build a theater for 11 million dollars," says Dennis Zacek, the artistic director of the Victory Gardens Theater.

Indeed you would. But as anyone who has ever been in charge of a building project will tell you, the first rule of renovation and reconstruction is that the project will cost a lot more than you think.

And the second rule is that it will cost a lot more than you think.

So it has gone at the two new Chicago theaters likely to re-open, finally, during 2006.

Zacek is shepherding the renovation of the historic Biograph Theatre, the former movie house at 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. It is to become the new mainstage home of the Victory Gardens and was supposed to be open by now. It also was to contain two theaters--the 299-seat mainstage (with a balcony) and a 128-studio theater space--at a cost of around $9 million. Those, at least, were the facts laid out on a frigid December morning back in 2004, as reporters, playwrights and dignitaries stood around together on the sidewalk outside. That cost is now in excess of $11 million. The opening date now is slated for September. The mainstage no longer has a balcony. And instead of two theaters, the new building now will contain only one. The studio space isn't gone for good--the raw space still will exist. It just won't be finished until there is more money to do so.

"We had to simplify our design a bit," says Zacek. "We had to change."

The Biograph isn't the only project that had to change. The LaSalle Bank Theatre--the newly renovated version of the old Shubert Theatre in Chicago's Loop--also has yet to open, some three months after the projected opening date.

Eileen LaCario, the vice president of Broadway in Chicago, says the opening will probably be some time this spring. The delay, she says, is a consequence of the renovation proving more complex than first thought. "We are dealing with a vintage building," LaCario says, "and we found things we didn't expect to find. The building will be absolutely gorgeous when it's done."

The Chicago stop of the ever-touring "Annie" is listed as taking place at the LaSalle Bank Theatre from April 25 to May 7. According to LaCario, that's still the plan--but she won't say whether or not that will be the first show in the new theater. Maybe something will get slotted in before that. And if stuff ain't done, shows always can move.

Over at the Biograph, the plans still make up an exciting addition. The theater still will have 299 seats--they'll just be all on one level. And since Victory Gardens never has had a balcony, its audience is unlikely to miss the one they never saw. Zacek is also hopeful that the studio eventually will see the light of day as a performance space. More important yet, this theater isn't being built entirely on loans. Victory Gardens has come up with $10 million already.

But since the cost is $11.3 million, that still leaves $1.3 million. "We still have a ways to go, " Zacek says.

This new theater--balcony, studio and all--could have been financed by selling the old Victory Gardens--a valuable Lincoln Park building that this troupe owns, almost free and clear. But Zacek says he won't do that. He wants to rename the space the Victory Gardens Greenhouse (to imply cultivation) and continue to rent at least three of the theaters in there to small companies without their own homes.

One beneficiary likely will be Shattered Globe, which has a terrific revival of "The House of Blues Leaves" up and running in the old space.

"I feel this responsibility as an artist-citizen," says Zacek, "to keep our current building intact. And to keep it as a theater. The whole idea here is not so much that we are moving but we are adding to our creative canvas."

And to keep that noble philosophy whole, compromises had to be made. It's all a bit like renovating your kitchen.
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Old January 26th, 2006, 12:17 AM   #65
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Wrigley Field

From the Tribune

New bleacher features

Published January 25, 2006


Wrigley Field will have 1,702 new bleacher seats in place for the Cubs' home opener on April 7, increasing the capacity of the bleachers by almost 50 percent.

The bleacher expansion also includes a "batter's eye" center-field lounge and an access corridor along the perimeter of the park.

Later in the year, as part of an ongoing improvement program, the Cubs also plan to add a new structure adjacent to the park on Clark Street, which will include parking, stores and a restaurant.




Construction:

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Old January 26th, 2006, 03:05 AM   #66
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FARK I hate the Tribune!!!!! Sorry, had to express that more as a Cubs fan then an urbanst.


.......Is there anyway they build the parking garage as anything other then ugly? For a parking lot it doesn't look bad but blahhhh.....With how big of a tourist mecca Wrigley really is it is important to build proper around there with the best quality. It really almost be an extension of Navy Pier or Michigan Ave with how much exposre it gets. I would gather it is the 2nd most viisted sight in the city after Navy Pier. The Cubs and its neighbors shouldn't be allowed to build bullshite around there.
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Old January 26th, 2006, 08:18 AM   #67
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I don't know many awe inspiring parking garages, but it's certainly better then what's there now... Maybe in the future they can tear down the Taco Hell, or McDonalds and build something appropriate for the site...
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Old January 26th, 2006, 10:18 AM   #68
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^What would be appropriate? It's a ballpark, there shouldn't be a Spago or some kind antique shop.
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Old January 26th, 2006, 10:33 AM   #69
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I'm sure we can do better then some crappy fast food chains...
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Old January 27th, 2006, 01:03 AM   #70
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http://chicagojournal.com/main.asp?S...93&TM=64732.21

Kiddie makeover at Daley Bi?
Ice rink may be casualty of possible Children’s Museum move

By KATHARINE GRAYSON, Staff Writer


Although it sits in one of the city’s most prominent parks, the Daley Bicentennial Plaza fieldhouse long has been more a place for nearby residents to play than a destination for tourists snapping photos at Millennium Park. But for officials from the Chicago Children’s Museum, who are mulling a possible relocation from Navy Pier, the space occupied by the drab Daley Bi building has the sort of high-profile potential they’re looking for.

To that end, museum representatives, including architect Eva Wier, unveiled highly conceptual plans Tuesday for what a new, expanded facility may look like, if it’s ultimately built at Grant Park. Officials speaking before a group of neighbors gathered at a Grant Park Advisory Committee meeting this week said they are still considering expanding the existing 57,000-square-foot building at Navy Pier. Overall, however, they said they were looking for community support as they continue to investigate the feasibility of constructing the new building.

"When the site unveiled itself, everyone became very excited," said architect Weir, of the firm Jones Lang LaSalle, who is working with the museum on the project.

The plans, she explained, would call for tearing down the existing 1970s-era fieldhouse, which sits discretely below grade just off Randolph. The new building would take many design cues from the existing structure. Aside from a glassy, 2,000-square-foot, circular atrium entrance, the museum would remain tucked under a green roof. The atrium, facing Randolph, would feature a spiral entrance similar to the interior of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Weir said. The museum would occupy three floors, with the top two levels featuring windows, and a subterranean bottom floor. The footprint of the building would additionally stretch along the existing diagonal walkways that flank the fieldhouse’s existing main entrance.

A key component of the new project will also be a new and expanded fieldhouse, Weir said. That space would be housed where the northwest, diagonal walkway now juts out from the main entrance. The fieldhouse would nearly double in size, from 11,500 square feet to more than 20,000 square feet.

Grant Park Advisory Council President Bob O’Neill said he will be actively seeking neighborhood input on the design, but noted that the plans are cause for some measure of optimism.

"[The existing fieldhouse] has served the community well, but it’s in need of rebuilding," he said. "Through great design, wonderful things can happen with buildings in parks."

According to the plans, the existing ice skating rink at the park would be removed. Where it would be relocated remains uncertain, though Peter England, museum CEO, assured the crowd that the new rink at Millennium Park will not be considered a substitute. Museum representatives also said the tennis courts would not be affected by the plan.

The project, officials and neighbors noted, would also give the Millennium Park’s distinctive Frank Gehry’s bridge an actual destination.

Overall, the plans received a mostly warm reception, with caution from some neighbors that any new building should be respectful of neighbors and families who use the fieldhouse for recreation.

"I’m very much in favor of a facility of this kind, as long as it includes what’s important to our neighborhood," one neighbor said.

England said at the end of the meeting that the museum has not yet determined how much the project would cost. He said, however, that the museum would be responsible for fund-raising.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 01:51 AM   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NWside
I'm sure we can do better then some crappy fast food chains...

The fact that there are fast food chains there doesn't bother me so much. In fact it makes some sense for some fast food chains to be around the park I guess. My bigger problem is that the lots and parking lots take up half a block across from one of the most visted landmarks in Chicago. If anything there shoudl just be some "express" fast food stores that are part of some mixed use buildings.

Chicago should have some density and nice looking buildings around the area that gets some high volume of visitor traffic.

Any fan that would pay 40 bucks to park in one of those lots during the games anway instead of taking the Red Line to the game are morons anyway who don't deserve a parking space. It is not like attendance would suffer if they didn't have those big parking lots at the Taco Bell and McDonalds there.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 02:12 AM   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spyguy
http://chicagojournal.com/main.asp?S...93&TM=64732.21

Kiddie makeover at Daley Bi?
Ice rink may be casualty of possible Children’s Museum move

By KATHARINE GRAYSON, Staff Writer


Although it sits in one of the city’s most prominent parks, the Daley Bicentennial Plaza fieldhouse long has been more a place for nearby residents to play than a destination for tourists snapping photos at Millennium Park. But for officials from the Chicago Children’s Museum, who are mulling a possible relocation from Navy Pier, the space occupied by the drab Daley Bi building has the sort of high-profile potential they’re looking for.

To that end, museum representatives, including architect Eva Wier, unveiled highly conceptual plans Tuesday for what a new, expanded facility may look like, if it’s ultimately built at Grant Park. Officials speaking before a group of neighbors gathered at a Grant Park Advisory Committee meeting this week said they are still considering expanding the existing 57,000-square-foot building at Navy Pier. Overall, however, they said they were looking for community support as they continue to investigate the feasibility of constructing the new building.

"When the site unveiled itself, everyone became very excited," said architect Weir, of the firm Jones Lang LaSalle, who is working with the museum on the project.

The plans, she explained, would call for tearing down the existing 1970s-era fieldhouse, which sits discretely below grade just off Randolph. The new building would take many design cues from the existing structure. Aside from a glassy, 2,000-square-foot, circular atrium entrance, the museum would remain tucked under a green roof. The atrium, facing Randolph, would feature a spiral entrance similar to the interior of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Weir said. The museum would occupy three floors, with the top two levels featuring windows, and a subterranean bottom floor. The footprint of the building would additionally stretch along the existing diagonal walkways that flank the fieldhouse’s existing main entrance.

A key component of the new project will also be a new and expanded fieldhouse, Weir said. That space would be housed where the northwest, diagonal walkway now juts out from the main entrance. The fieldhouse would nearly double in size, from 11,500 square feet to more than 20,000 square feet.

Grant Park Advisory Council President Bob O’Neill said he will be actively seeking neighborhood input on the design, but noted that the plans are cause for some measure of optimism.

"[The existing fieldhouse] has served the community well, but it’s in need of rebuilding," he said. "Through great design, wonderful things can happen with buildings in parks."

According to the plans, the existing ice skating rink at the park would be removed. Where it would be relocated remains uncertain, though Peter England, museum CEO, assured the crowd that the new rink at Millennium Park will not be considered a substitute. Museum representatives also said the tennis courts would not be affected by the plan.

The project, officials and neighbors noted, would also give the Millennium Park’s distinctive Frank Gehry’s bridge an actual destination.

Overall, the plans received a mostly warm reception, with caution from some neighbors that any new building should be respectful of neighbors and families who use the fieldhouse for recreation.

"I’m very much in favor of a facility of this kind, as long as it includes what’s important to our neighborhood," one neighbor said.

England said at the end of the meeting that the museum has not yet determined how much the project would cost. He said, however, that the museum would be responsible for fund-raising.
^ I don't get why everybody is so hung-up on the ice-skating rink.

There's a brand-spanking new one in Millennium Park. Get the **** over it!
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Old January 27th, 2006, 02:20 AM   #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nomarandlee
My bigger problem is that the lots and parking lots take up half a block across from one of the most visted landmarks in Chicago.
Yeah - I was about to make the same observation. That MickyD's parking lot adjacent to Wrigley is so sad. I mean, c'mon, McDonald's is headquartered in Chicagoland; they can do better for so prominent a spot in their own metro.
They can't all be Sox fans at HQ, can they?
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Old January 28th, 2006, 06:46 AM   #74
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Updated construction photos for the Bridgeview Stadium at 71st/Harlem.







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Old January 28th, 2006, 07:03 AM   #75
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If the Fire did become more popular is there anyway that the new stadium has contigencies so that it can be expanded?
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Old January 29th, 2006, 09:19 AM   #76
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Yes. it starts at 19,500 next season, has temporary expansion available for up to 28,000 and there is a planned expansion for an eventual second phase to raise it to 30,000.

I don't think they plan on the permanent expansion for 10 years or so. It's quite possible if not likely the stadium will sell 90% capacity over all of next season. The 58 suites are almost completely sold, and the 1000 or so $1100 club seats are something around 80% sold and the schedule hasn't even been announced yet for 2006.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 01:12 AM   #77
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http://chicagojournal.com/main.asp?S...318&TM=64969.4

Running out of real estate

Salvation Army wants to build a $65 million community center, but is there enough room on the Near West Side?

By HAYDN BUSH, Managing Editor

The Near West Side is one of four Chicago locations that the Salvation Army is considering for a 25-acre, $130 million community center, Salvation Army Maj. David Harvey told a gathering of the University Village Association on Jan. 26. But it remains to be seen whether the neighborhood has enough open space for the sprawling complex that has been proposed.

At last week’s UVA meeting, Harvey said that the Salvation Army has already decided to build a Chicago community center, with funds coming from a $1.5 billion gift from the late Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. Joan Kroc helped build a community center in San Diego, which opened in 2002, and her estate gave the Salvation Army $1.5 billion in January 2004, with a directive to build 30 to 40 community centers across the United States. Harvey said that Joan Kroc was particularly interested in seeing the Salvation Army build a community center in Chicago; the first McDonald’s was opened in suburban Des Plaines.

While Harvey stressed that the plans will be contingent on the site Salvation Army chooses, he said the group typically builds a 25-acre site that has amenities including baseball fields, swimming pools, water parks, and soccer fields. He estimated that the site would cost roughly $65 million to build, with another $68 million set aside for an endowment to keep the building running. Roughly $90 million would come from Kroc’s estate; the Salvation Army of Chicago plans to raise an additional $22.5 million for the construction of the center, and $20 million for the endowment.

But despite the massive endowment the center would boast, Salvation Army officials have not pinned down a site for the project yet. Harvey said that the Salvation Army is considering four sites in Chicago, including the Near West Side, 119th and Morgan, 83rd and Vincennes, and the former Washburne Trade School site near 31st and Kedzie.

Harvey and several other Salvation Army officials who attended the meeting said they are seriously considering a site in the Illinois Medical District. Harvey said the Salvation Army is excited about locating close to the ABLA Homes, Pilsen, North Lawndale, and Little Village.

"We’re very excited about the Illinois Medical District," Harvey said. "We see ourselves not just as a community center but as a regional center."

Phillips pointed out that while the Salvation Army was originally considering a location near 39th and State, a Near West Side location would be centrally located within the city as a whole.

"We saw the hand of God lead us to a better place," Phillips said.

At the meeting, UVA co-founder Oscar D’Angelo pointed out that the IMD would need to decide that the community center constituted a legitimate medical use, which are the only operations allowed within the district’s boundaries. Still, D’Angelo argued that the Salvation Army could reach those requirements by including medical services, including a possible health clinic.

"This is a tremendous opportunity," D’Angelo said.

But Sam Pruett, executive director of the IMD, said later this week that while he’s impressed by the scope of the community center the Salvation Army is proposing, there simply isn’t enough room in the medical district for a 25-acre complex. A site of that size, Pruett pointed out, would be larger than the entire Rush University Medical Center complex. Pruett said he met with officials from the Salvation Army last month, and said he told them that the medical district simply wasn’t big enough for their purposes.

"We admired their vision, but it’s too big for our considerations," Pruett said. "There are a number of potential hurdles with that type of project in the IMD that the size and scope of project would preclude."


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Old February 5th, 2006, 12:14 AM   #78
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There was a small diagram of the Children's Museum I saw. Basically imagine a plastic cup with the rim on the ground, except it is a 4 floor glass cup It's not a ground breaking design, but better than what's there. They should get Libeskind or someone to design this feature.
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Old February 5th, 2006, 02:09 AM   #79
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Old February 5th, 2006, 03:12 AM   #80
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^ Way cool.

Interesting how they didn't mention the Art Institute's expansion, but whatever
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