SOUTH LOOP — The new South Loop park promised as part of the DePaul arena deal will include a playground for kids and turf for dogs.
The Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance posted images of the new park coming to 21st Street and Prairie Avenue on Facebook on Friday. The park, which has yet to be built or named, is part of a massive development around McCormick Place including a new Marriott hotel and basketball arena for DePaul University the city is billing as an event center.
"It's a nice little pocket park and it's going to serve a need for a children's play area," said Tina Feldstein, the neighborhood group's president. "It's going to be actually really nice."
A slide showing various park features. [Site Design Group Ltd.]
Designed by Chicago-based Site Design Group, the park will be divided into thirds: one for the playground and mist sprays, another for a dog park with artificial turf, and a plaza with seats for adults in between. The 20,800-square-foot site at the northeast corner of 21st and Prairie is a vacant lot that was once slated for a high-rise condominium project called Aristocrat Tower, but that development never broke ground amid the recession and the land has sat empty since, Feldstein said. The land is now controlled by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, a quasi-public agency that oversees McCormick Place and Navy Pier.
The park was announced last year as part of the city's push to redevelop the area surrounding McCormick Place — Chicago's largest convention center — into an entertainment district. It will also add a new park to a neighborhood better-known for vintage brick lofts. Other nearby parks for dogs and kids include Fred Anderson Dog Park, 1629 S. Wabash Ave., and the new Jones College Prep athletic grounds at 23rd and Federal streets.
A slide showing playground equipment. [Site Design Group]
Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), whose ward includes the site, said the park will cost $2 million and will be paid for with tax increment financing funds. The agency colloquially known as McPier is on the hook for any cost overruns, she said. Dowell expects the park to open in 2017, around the same time as McCormick Place's new hotel and event center.
"There’s a need," Dowell said. "We have a community with lots of children, lots of dogs ... this was something that the community wanted to see, so I worked with the community."
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: