Chicago Sun-Times reports:
It’s a visionary idea for beautifying Chicago and lifting a community’s property values whose time has never come.
But might it come at last? There’s still an allure here for making no little plans, even if they are arguably unwise.
The idea is the Kennedy Expressway cap, a green oasis that could be built on a deck over the highway as it cuts its swath west of downtown. It would cover that unsightly traffic, diminish its roar and provide open space for a West Loop region that teems with new residents, offices, hotels and restaurants. Think of it as Millennium Park replicated about a mile and a half west.
Capping the Kennedy is a notion that’s been out there for years, always with a dream-like quality to it. It was included in the city’s 2003 Central Area Plan, its first comprehensive look at the downtown region since 1958, and it also was featured in a 2009 “action plan” update that cheerily set a goal of completing it by 2020.
(click here to continue reading ‘Cap the Kennedy’ plan, dormant for years, still has backers – Chicago Sun-Times.)
I whole heartedly still support this project 100%! Or more, if possible.
This is especially a good time to discuss it as there is a large development project in this exact location that will probably start work this spring, and last for three years. The developers would probably like to have a park adjacent to their health club/hotel/apartment buildings, maybe they could even have input on the plan and contribute towards it?
As a friend said on Twitter, Chicago covered up lots of railroads, why not highways too?
Seems like I’m not the only to think those thoughts:
I was at a meeting last week called by Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) and the West Loop Community Organization where residents offered comments about a new hotel and apartment tower connected to an office building on the block just west of the Kennedy between Washington and Randolph streets. People liked the project overall, but talk inevitably turned to traffic management and lack of park space for an area that now has many young families. Residents said the closest parks, Mary Bartelme and Skinner, can be overrun.
That’s when Burnett brought up capping the Kennedy. I asked him about it later. He said the project could tap into funds in his ward’s tax increment financing districts that may be close to expiring. “If we don’t use it, we lose it,” he said. “That money has to be distributed back to all the taxing bodies, so let’s use it while we can.’’
Sarver said he still believes in the cap. If the experience of Millennium Park is a guide, the Kennedy cap “would generate billions in tax revenue for the city. It would be wonderful. That stretch of roadway is a real fissure in our city.’’ He said other cities, such as Dallas, have done well by relegating a highway to a tunnel and creating attractive public space above it.
“I think this really would be the kind of project that TIF dollars were intended for,” Sarver said.
The cost? Sarver estimates it at $50 million per block. If you did the stretch between Randolph and Adams streets, that would get you to $200 million. Others may suggest capping only two or three blocks.
The West Loop and Fulton Market has drastically changed in recent time, but there is dearth of greenspace. More greenspace is more better…