The large patch of fenced off grass on State Street that used to be an open-air toilet for vagrants is rapidly being turned into Pritzker Park.
Construction started back in the snowy (OK, “snowier”) months and for a long time seemed to involve nothing more than moving all the dirt into a big pile. These days, cement trucks are on the scene pouring the foundations for what will become seating areas and pathways.
The plan calls for concession stands in the park selling coffee and newspapers. DePaul was at one time thinking of putting on free jazz concerts here. There will be meaningful quotes carved into the back wall.
But don’t get used to using the whole thing — only the rectangle facing State Street is permanent. The rest of it on Plymouth Court can be sold to a developer at any time. Not surprisingly, some city officials are already drooling at the prospect of renting out the entire park to private interests, the way Millennium Park is sometimes closed to the public so that Allstate and Toyota can throw parties.
That little area really needs a park, and one that can smell the wifi from the Harold Washington Library Center would be ideal. I only hope it’s taken care of.
Between the DePaul kids across the street, the drifters used to sleeping on that turf, and various flavors of suburban “sk8rbois” who like to pretend the ultimate methods of expressing urban hipness are through skateboards and spraypaint, it just seems doomed. If this park doesn’t have full-time guard service like at Millennium Park , it might well be all for naught.
The park was designed by Doug Hoerr Landscape Architects.
Construction is paid for with TIF funds.