Read the full article with many photos Chicago’s Cityfront Center An Incredible Transformation? Not Really. The ‘meh’ blocks west of Navy Pier are a cautionary tale for Chicago’s next round of megaprojects
By Blair Kamin
The Chicago Tribune
October 18, 2018
Viewed from the air, it’s a stunning transformation — in just 30 years, a gritty swath of cleared land and surface parking lots has become a glistening new part of Chicago.
But people experience cities on the ground, not in the air. Put the 60 acres between Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue under a microscope and what you see is a cityscape of great expectations and half-kept promises.
The deal was simple: The city would let developers build tall at Cityfront Center, Chicago’s largest real estate development of the 1980s. In exchange, there would be beautiful buildings, streets, parks, plazas and a riverwalk.
Yet the architecture, with rare exceptions, is mediocre. The public spaces were supposed to be vibrant and interconnected. Instead, they are unfinished, underachieving, largely disjointed and even, in one case, off-limits to the public.
Urban planning flops like these loom large as city officials review new megaplans from developers who pretty up their visions of skyscrapers with dazzling drawings of riverwalks, bike trails and other amenities teeming with smiling, attractive people.
For the 53-acre Lincoln Yards on the North Side, developer Sterling Bay wants to construct 12 million square feet of buildings, including towers as tall as 800 feet. It’s sweetening the deal by proposing amenities like an extension of The 606 bike and pedestrian trail east of the Kennedy Expressway.
At The 78, a 62-acre project on the Near South Side that Amazon is considering as an HQ2 site, developer Related Midwest has laid out plans for 13 million square feet, including skyscrapers up to 950 feet tall. Its sweeteners include a 100-foot-wide, half-mile-long riverwalk lined by restaurants and shops….