Something Stirring at DuSable Park

It’s been a little over a year since the Environmental Protection Agency finished removing radioactive soil from what will some day become DuSable Park, at 401 North Lake Shore Drive. Since then, the seed that was sprayed on the new hill has mostly sprouted, and the place has been pretty quiet. Until recently.

DuSable Park in November, 2021. (Courtesy of Streeterville Spy Brian.)
DuSable Park in November, 2021. (Courtesy of Streeterville Spy Brian.)

Streeterville Spy Brian was out there this week, and noticed he wasn’t alone. In addition to the heavy machinery parking lot that’s sprung up there since we last stopped by, there were people. People in hardhats. People in hardhats doing things.

A few months ago, Mayor Lightfoot made a $5,400,000 promise to finally turn this patch of lakefront property into a public park, a mere 34 years after another mayor made the same promise. Is this a sign that it’s finally happening?

We don’t see any new construction permits for this space, so for right now we’ll file it in our “Believe it when we see it” drawer. If anyone has the skinny on this, it’s probably the good folks at Related Midwest.

You’ll remember the city approved Related’s plan to build a thousand new homes in a two-tower complex replacing the Chicago Spire scar. Part of that approval requires Related to pony up $10,000,000 for the design and construction of DuSable Park.

March 2020 rendering of 400 North Lake Shore Drive (Courtesy of Related Midwest)

And no sneaky waiting until the buildings are already up to start writing checks. Related has to put $1,500,000 in escrow for the Park District to use for the design of the park before the City of Chicago will issue a foundation permit. Once the permit is issued, the Chicago Park District has 16 months to come up with a design, get it through both public and city approval, and then deliver the design to Related. Only then can Related build the park. And when it does, it has to finish the park either within two years of being given a construction permit for the park, or before it opens the first of the two buildings. Whichever comes first.

As you can see, there are still a lot of moving parts with this. Some media outlets have stated that DuSable Park will open as soon as 2024. We don’t see that happening. But it’s nice to see that something is happening.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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