SOUTH LOOP — Ald. William Burns (4th), Mayor Rahm Emanuel's wife Amy Rule, Park District Supt. Mike Kelly and Grant Park Conservancy President Bob O'Neill shoveled a ceremonial load of soil at the southern tip of Grant Park Monday to kick off construction on a three-acre skate park.
The move was a formality, as construction was already underway to build the $2.65 million skate park designed by lansdcape architecture firm Altamanu. The construction timeline, originally set to be completed by the end of 2014, has been sped up in the hopes of opening the park by October, Kelly and O'Neill said Monday.
O'Neill and his Grant Park Conservancy has been lobbying on behalf of the project since 2006, when it was introduced in conjunction with Maggie Daley Park renovations.
In late June, $2.5 million in TIF funding was approved for the project, with the Park District picking up the rest of the tab. The district purchased the 1.9 acres needed for the park from the city for $1.
The grassy field currently being razed for the skate park "feels like it's kind of always been a whole lot of nothing," Rule said, calling the skate park design "very cool" as she looked through renderings at the groundbreaking.
Kelly said the end result will be a "ready-for-TV skate park." A spectator's viewing platform was a late addition to the park design.
Skaters and advocates who provided feedback during the park's design stages said incorporating non-skaters into the space was an important factor in keeping it activated.
"It would be awesome if a mom and dad that had Minor Threat tattoos were sitting down, and they've got a kid, and the kid wants to look at some skateboarding — that'd be great," said Dan Nagelberg, a lifelong Chicagoan and skater who lives four blocks from the future park.
Construction on the park overlaps with construction of a tree-lined bike path along Roosevelt Road, also designed by Altamanu.
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