For the last few years we’ve been listening to the Grant Park Conservancy (friends of the blog) ever-so-politely lament that something needs to be done with the southern extremity of the park. =From its web site:
At the turn of the century the north side got Millennium Park with its world-famous bean sculpture. By some counts, it’s the second-biggest tourist attraction in the Midwest. The southern part of the park got… well, to be honest a very strange collection of sculptures. Let’s face it, unless you married into the Addams Family, you’re not taking wedding photos in front of Agora.
Then the northern part got Maggie Daley Park, soon to be a world class multi-function modern park with cafes, a skating ribbon, and cutting-edge amenities. The southern portion got… a new train station and a dog run.
Now the southern portion is going to get its due with an up-to-date skate park, an entertainment venue, and some nice “placemaking” opportunities.
Chicago landscape architecture company Altamanu has put together three proposals for the dead space south of the 11th Street pedestrian bridge, and immediately west of the McCormick Place Busway that runs parallel to the Metra Electric District tracks. In a way, it’s like enlarging Grant Park because this area is currently fenced off and below grade, so it’s inaccessible and inhospitable to visitors.
Central to all three of Altamanu’s ideas are a large skate park and some kind of outdoor performance space. Grant Park has had a “temporary” skate park for the better part of a decade at Ninth Street and Columbus Drive. This new facility would be much larger, and permanent.
You are probably already familiar with Altamanu’s work. It played a role in the master plan for Lincoln Park, and has done a number of small parks in Oak Park. In the city, it was responsible for Connors Park in the Gold Coast, but might want to remove that boast from its web site since Connors Park has since been completely redeveloped because it was overrun with vagrants, and underused by the neighborhood.
You can look at all three of the proposals for the new Grant Park skate park and performance areas below, and the sketches of what it might look like. These are still early plans, but it is hoped that construction can begin as soon as next year.