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Northerly Island Development Plans Shift

November 11, 2009

northerlyislandchicagoBefore Chicago lost to Rio de Janeiro in the Olympic contest, the Park District was eyeing how to develop the 91-acre man-made island east of Soldier Field, while making the former site of Meigs Field a temporary home for Olympic venues for beach volleyball, the canoe and kayak slalom courses and even an observation point for sailing contests.

A month after Mayor Daley’s Olympic team washed out in the race for the 2016 Summer Games in Chicago, the tide has shifted as planners focus on Northerly Island’s long-term place in the lakefront landscape.  One idea is to extend the swimming and beach areas on the eastern edge of Northerly Island.

Today, Chicago Park District officials are holding a public meeting downtown to unveil a series of sketches for the site, pen-to-paper ideas that will serve as a conversation starter, says Gia Biagi, director of planning and development for the Chicago Park District.  The Park District hired a design team that includes Studio Gang Architects, best known for the Aqua Building at the Lakeshore East site near downtown, to sketch out ideas — though officials did not release the cost of the work.

One thought is to extend the swimming and beach areas on the eastern edge of the island. Another is to carve out portions of the “island” really a peninsula creating bays or coves or even inland waterways.  A migratory bird sanctuary is likely, because the lakeshore is a favorite resting and dining space as the animals move north and south, with walking and exercise paths nearby so that city-dwellers and tourists alike could take it in.

Planners are considering how to use the old airport’s terminal and there is even talk about re-calibrating Charter One Pavilion — or creating another venue — to blend with the area’s surroundings, a move that could set the stage for controversy.

Erma Tranter, head of watchdog group Friends of the Parks, reiterated the group’s position that the temporary pavilion should be removed, allowing the peninsula to retain its natural aesthetic.  The Park District’s focus is in step with Daley, who has said he’d like the area to be an oasis filled with wildflowers, prairie grasses and trees.

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Mitch Levinson is the author of “Internet Marketing: The Key to Increased New Home Sales” published by BuilderBooks. He is an Internet marketing expert with expertise in search engine optimization, website development, email marketing, social media and CRM consulting services. He is known for creating effective programs that can be tracked through analytics to prove effectiveness and ROI. Mitch is founder and president of MLC New Home Marketing and MLC FlatFee Realty, as well as managing partner of mRELEVANCE, LLC, a Marketing, Communication, Interactive agency with offices in Chicago and Atlanta. He currently leads the Chicago team. A Multi-Million Dollar Sales Producer who earned an MBA in Computer Information Systems and eCommerce, he brings a unique perspective and experience to the field of real estate communications. Mitch combines the two interests in order to help home builders and developers gain a competitive advantage through the Internet and technology. When he isn’t behind a computer, he enjoys participating in sports and coaching his kids’ teams. Mitch resides in Arlington Heights, Ill., a northwest suburb of Chicago, with his family, which includes two rambunctious labs. Visit my Google+ profile.

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