Mayor throws cash at South Loop projects
Motor Row streetscape gets funding, Cermak Green Line station design unveiled
10/03/2012 10:00 PM
Flanked by Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) and Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd), Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Friday that the city would use $65 million in tax increment financing dollars to fund a wide range of infrastructure projects and developments throughout the South Loop.
While many of the projects have already been in the works, the announcement clears up how they will be funded and when the residents can expect to see them completed.
Leading the pack is cash for several long-planned CTA infrastructure projects. The rehabilitation of the Orange Line tracks between Clark and State streets will start in 2013 and finish sometime in 2014. About $11.5 million of the project’s $25 million costs will be covered through River South TIF funds.
Streetscape improvements for the section of Roosevelt Road near the Roosevelt ‘L’ Station will be completed in 2014, with its $1.8 million cost paid entirely with Near South TIF funds. The Harrison ‘L’ Station, which has not seen any major renovations since 1943, will receive “comprehensive renewal” for its $10 million projects funded entirely through the Near South TIF.
“All of the improvements so far have been incremental,” Fioretti said of the Harrison Station after a news conference Friday at the Weathermark Tavern in the South Loop. “We want to bring the station into the 21st century.”
Fioretti has been lobbying for improvements since Ron Huberman was president of the CTA. He expressed hope that the improvements will make stations more welcoming and convenient for students from nearby colleges.
The plan also provides $8.5 million in 24th/Michigan TIF funds for streetscape improvements to Motor Row sections of 23rd Street, 24th Street and Michigan Avenue. Emanuel stated the improvements would help foster the neighborhood identity and improve the connections between the neighborhood shopping districts, future Cermak Green Line ‘L’ station and McCormick Place.
With the National Veterans Art Museum moving out, the long-awaited Women’s Park and Gardens Field House expansion will begin in 2013 and finish by spring 2014. The expansion’s $3 million project costs will be paid through Near South TIF funds. Another $3 million has been allocated to southward expansion of Grant Park. According to the map provided by the City of Chicago, the extension would fill in the vacant site west of the 11th/Museum Campus Metra station.
Another long-awaited project — the construction of the new Chinatown branch library — is expected to start in 2013 thanks to $12 million in funding from 24th/Michigan TIF.
The news conference also saw the unveiling of the new renderings of the planned Cermak Green Line station. They show a transparent, tunnel-like roof enveloping the entire elevated structure above Cermak Road. According to a rendering of the station, the station will be called Cermak-McCormick Place. While the station will receive some TIF funding, city officials did not provide specific numbers. However, the station has been previously budgeted to cost $50 million.
Emanuel framed the initiative as an attempt to build on the previous projects that improved the Near South Side over the past decade.
“These investments will accelerate growth and invest in South Loop, Motor Row, Printers Row and Chinatown,” he said. “They will create hundreds of jobs. With these investments, multiple communities can flourish and grow.”