STREETERVILLE — Residents of Lake Point Tower — the 70-story condominium that will eventually be encircled by the Navy Pier Flyover — are excited to alleviate bike and pedestrian congestion that has long plagued the streets around their building.
But they want those pedestrians to stay out of their park.
City officials, who announced Tuesday that construction of the flyover would start next week, have assured the tower's condo association "that there will be a fence on the back side of it so people can't climb over into" the building's 2-1/2 acre park, which sits two floors above the ground level, said the association's president Keith Powell, a building resident for 13 years.
"That was a big concern," he said. "Especially on certain occasions like the Air and Water Show, you get a lot of people that maybe were out in the sun too long, or maybe they'd been drinking too much, and they would decide 'Let's go for a visit.' ... We've had problems in the past."
Powell said the fence wasn't included in original renderings of the plan when it was first presented four years ago.
"In the initial drawings we got a couple years ago, it literally looked like the bike path was going to be bolted onto the back of our building," he said. "Now that we've gotten these updated renderings that show that there's clearly a gap and a little protective shield, I think most of the people in this building kind of get it."
Powell said easy access to the building's park is also a security concern for some of the building's high-profile residents and guests, who recently have included Tom Cruise, Derrick Rose and the "Transformers" cast while they were shooting in Chicago.
"As far as I know, the building's pretty excited about it," associate property manager Jim Stecko said. "They're not excited about the construction, that's for sure, but once it's all done it's definitely an asset to the area."
The construction plan, which is expected to take four years, will require more than 30 trees to be cut down in neighboring Jane Addams Park, according to renderings distributed by the city.
Powell said that's a loss for the tower's residents, for two reasons.
"Some of the trees have been there for 40 or 50 years. It's just sad that you have all these old-growth trees that are being cut down," he said.
"Also, the trees help to deaden the noise from Grand Avenue — right now, you can hear a conversation on the ground from the park," he said. "So when the construction noise starts, I imagine that will only amplify it."
The building did receive a $125,000 payment in exchange for air rights where the bridge will pass over its property.
Only the first phase of the three-phase, four-year construction project will impact Lake Point Tower residents, according to Joanna Cocchico, the building's general manager.
"We have not made any huge plans other than just making our residents aware of the bike and pedestrian rerouting," she said.
Cocchico thinks the bridge will ultimately be an asset to building residents.
"We have a great number of outdoorsy [residents] — whether it's walking, running, bicycle and what not," she said. "More importantly, since we have that one lane of eastbound [traffic] on Grand where all the vehicles coming to the building make a turn from under Lake Shore Drive, there had been a lot of near-accidents there ... I think the flyover will address those concerns."
Powell agreed that the building's active tenants will especially benefit from the walkway.
"We have about 1,600 full-time residents and there's easily that many bikes in our bike storage lockers," he said. "There's also a lot of runners. I ran in the Chicago Marathon with a lot of other runners in the building. Lots of people who live there will use it."