ALBANY PARK — Construction on the River Park boathouse, the third of four planned along the Chicago River, is finally underway.
Fencing has been erected around the construction zone on the west bank of the river, near Argyle Street, with site demolition in progress. Work on the facility is expected to be completed in October, according to Chicago Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner.
A $1 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency kickstarted the boathouse project, announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011, with the goal of turning the river into a "backyard" recreational companion to the lakefront.
The first boathouse, at Ping Tom Park, opened in June 2013. The second, a massive $7.4 million, 20,000-square-foot structure designed by Jeanne Gang and featuring an indoor rowing tank, debuted in October 2013 at Clark Park.
An initial design for the River Park boathouse was presented in March 2012. At the time, the boathouse was to have been a wholly new structure and the concept included a rooftop deck. Those plans have since been scaled back, with the boathouse now consisting largely of an expansion of an existing storage/restroom building.
The boathouse will be used as both a boat launch and rental facility.
The building addition will contain approximately 310 square feet of interior office space and storage, with a canopy-covered area extending off the north wall, according to Maxey-Faulkner.
This open area will provide shelter and also support the kayak rental concession, she said. The existing restrooms will be upgraded with new plumbing fixtures and painted walls.
A concrete storage pad with retaining walls for kayak rentals will be built closer to the river’s edge. The existing boat launch and asphalt landing will be demolished, replaced by a new accessible kayak boat launch. Additional work is being done to build up the shoreline, according to Maxey-Faulkner.
The total cost of design and construction is $1.4 million, she said.
The fourth and final boathouse is being planned near Canal Origins Park in Bridgeport.