MAGGIE DALEY PARK — Friends of the Parks, which has already sued city officials over the proposed lakefront Lucas Museum, is adding two more developments to its list of unwelcome projects.
The Chicago-based parks advocacy group on Monday voiced displeasure with City Hall over plans for a new restaurant on the southern end of Maggie Daley Park, as well as a high-rise proposal for Pritzker Park in the Loop.
“In an era where most other North American cities are improving and expanding their urban downtown public open spaces to enhance livability, this administration looks at parks as construction sites," Friends of the Parks President Cassandra Francis said in a statement.
The Chicago Park District board in January approved a 10-year agreement with Chicago-based Four Corners Tavern Group to build and operate the Maggie Daley Park restaurant on Monroe Street.
Renderings call for the restaurant, named Maggie's at the Park, to be housed in a 10,000-square-foot glass structure with retractable walls and a green roof with views of Buckingham Fountain. Four Corners Director Ryan Indovina declined to comment Monday on Friends of the Park's opposition to the project.
In a statement, the Chicago Park District said the restaurant plan will not result in the loss of any parkland. The park district also pointed out that the restaurant will replace The Green at Grant Park, a shuttered restaurant and miniature golf course.
"The project will be a seamless extension of the park itself that blends into its surroundings," Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said via e-mail.
In addition, the new restaurant's green roof would actually add space to the park, the park district said.
Elsewhere, the group is opposed to a proposed high-rise development at Pritzker Park, 310 S. State St. The site, just north of Harold Washington Library, is the only park in the Loop.
No detailed development proposals have been floated yet for the site, but one city official reiterated the stance that the park is "underutilized."
"We believe it should be developed for more people-intensive uses that align with the evolving role of State Street for new retail, commercial, and institutional uses," Peter Strazzabosco, deputy commissioner of the city's department of planning and development, said via e-mail. "The site was originally cleared in anticipation of its redevelopment as part of a Washington Library plan, and the interim use as public open space has only been marginally successful."
The two projects are the latest to draw fire from Friends of the Parks, which is taking city officials to court over granting a 17-acre site near Soldier Field to the Lucas Museum. The group is also opposed to the city's plan to transfer land in Jackson or Washington parks for a potential Obama Presidential Library.
The announcement arrives one day before Tuesday's mayoral election. Francis and a spokesperson for Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not immediately return requests for comment.
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