Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sloopin's Top Trends in 2014:
Civic Projects and Improvements Everywhere

It's the last day of 2014 and to close it out we thought we would spend some time reflecting on some of the most lasting things that happened or are going to happen in the coming years.

Monday it was beer!  Tuesday it was real estate.  Today, December 31st, were focusing on the amazing amount of civic projects that happened or were announced this year.

CTA Green Line (via yochicago)
We've spent a lot of time and digital ink on Motor Row and the city's grand plans for this area.  While it's still mostly talk, there finally was some action.

The biggest thing that happened was the construction of the Green Line CTA station at Cermak.  While it was supposed to open in 2014, it's been slightly delayed and is now looking like 2015.  However, it's nearly complete.

The other big news is that McPier, DePaul and the city of Chicago are moving forward with their grand development plans to build a new arena (and also hotels and shops).

And while construction hasn't officially begun on the arena, many of the necessary pieces that need to happen have.  One Lakeside bank closed at the corner of Cermak and Indiana to make way for this development.  The historic Harriet Rees house was also dramatically moved north to make way for the arena:

Needless to say, things are happening down around Motor Row.  Will it be enough to really make this area an "entertainment district"?  Time will tell.

Continuing east towards the lake one of the biggest civic announcements in the city was when George Lucas chose Chicago to house his narrative arts museum.  Debate has raged around this museum (is it a Star Wars museum?), it's location (is it worthy of museum campus?) and it's bold designs (the white mountain?).  While it's not quite a done deal, it is a big project that could make a major impact on the neighborhood for generations.

One of the biggest positives we took from the George Lucas announcement is that the proposed plan would provide a pedestrian bridge of some variety at 18th street to Northerly Island.  Famed Chicago architect/designer Jeanne Gang is being tasked for this aspect of the project (which is also something to get excited about).

Speaking of which, phase 1 of the the Northerly Island transformation was completed and opened in 2014 and judging by the side-by-side picture below all we can say is WOW:

There are even bigger plans for Northerly Island in the future, but to us they seem slightly unrealistic.  If they did ever happen we would be doing a double WOW.
The other interesting thing that all the George Lucas Museum conversation sparked was a call from Mayor Emmanuel to rethink transportation to/from Museum Campus.  While nothing has been decided, at least there is some brain power being devoted to this problem.  

Moving up from Museum Campus,  Roosevelt Road and Grant Park also saw some love in 2014.  Roosevelt Road is being reconfigured to have the city's first raised bike lane.  While we're all for progress and forward thinking, we're slightly skeptical to see how this affects vehicular traffic on the already busy road.  

In Grant Park a uninspiring, overlooked grassy field was transformed in 2014 to state of the art skate park and grassy amphitheater.  While the amphitheater is still a work in progress, the skate park opened a couple of weeks ago and when we checked in was buzzing with energy

While that might seem like a lot going on, believe it or not there was more.  

The Fred Anderson Park/Dog Park opened at 16th and Wabash.  The Harrison Red Line CTA Station got a facelift.  The busy pedestrian intersection at 14th and Wabash got a light.  We learned that 18th street bridge is going to be closed for 4 months for repairs.  Harrison street got protected bike lanes.

We're probably missing something, but as you can see there were a ton of improvements to the neighborhood in 2014.  

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