Skyline year in review
12/26/2012 10:00 PM
It’s been another eventful year in Chicago, and one in which all eyes were fixed on our big town on more than one occasion. From the summer’s heavily covered NATO meeting to the polarizing standoff that was the Chicago Teachers Union strike, it seems as though Chicago’s dream of being recognized as a global city has finally come true.
Lucky for Skyline, not all local news travels the world over. Here’s a look back at a few of the stories that we enjoyed bringing you in 2012.
Lincoln Park rallies against remapping
The year got off to a contentious start when Lincoln Park residents and Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) pushed back against a redistricting plan aimed at dividing their neighborhood.
In January, the heads of seven resident groups in Lincoln Park stated their opposition to the “Map for a Better Chicago” proposal, a redistricting plan led by the city’s Black Caucus, which at the time enjoyed majority support in City Council. Smith, still fresh in her first term as alderman, carried the groups’ position against the map, which would have reshaped the 43rd Ward and conceded parts of Lincoln Park to the 27th, 32nd and 44th Wards.
Eventually the council passed an amended version of a different proposal, titled the “Taxpayer Protection Map” and Lincoln Park remained mostly intact. The city’s ward map is redrawn every 10 years.
Streeterville welcomes Children’s Memorial
Children’s Memorial Hospital completed the long journey from its North Side home to a new facility in Streeterville earlier this summer.
After years of planning and public discussion — which included an ongoing row over the building’s heliport deck — the 135-year-old hospital finally opened the doors to its new Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago at 225 E. Chicago Ave. The $855 million move placed the state-of-the-art pediatric hospital within arm’s reach of the city’s finest medical institutions.
Meanwhile, residents in Lincoln Park stood by while developer McCaffery Interests put together a redevelopment plan for the hospital’s old campus, located near the intersection of Halsted Street and Lincoln Avenue.
In July, the firm submitted a revised pitch for a three-building, mixed-used project to be built at the site. After sitting in on a public meeting for the proposal, Ald. Michele Smith told McCaffery to revise the plan for the 6-acre site property, based on her observation of “a community consensus that the plan was too dense.”
Prentice Women’s last stand
The year was a bitter pill for architectural preservationists stumping to save Prentice Women’s Hospital in Streeterville.
Historic building advocates continued to seek protections for the hospital earlier this summer as owner Northwestern University held strong to its plan to demolish the 36-year-old Prentice and erect a new medical facility in its place.
The city’s landmarks commission briefly granted and then denied a designation for Prentice, leaving the Bertrand Goldberg-designed towers open for a speedy teardown.
Northwestern has yet to publicize designs for the new facility; meanwhile, the Save Prentice Coalition recently filed a suit in Cook County court to have the city’s decision overturned.
Get to the Wolf Point
The authors of the three-tower Wolf Point were sent back to the drawing board when a last-minute change to the plan prompted Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) to defer city approvals for the design.
After presenting a site plan for the mixed-use development to the public in late spring, Houston-based Hines Interests and local commerce mogul Chris Kennedy were on their way to the city’s plan commission when it came to the attention of Reilly that the team had written in provisions for a 1,800-unit hotel in an upcoming phase of the plan the night before.
The alderman, who had previously supported the proposal, canceled the hearing and then talked the firm down to a 450-room hotel, which Hines maintained it was never set on building in the first place. A new hearing has yet to be scheduled.
The historic Wolf Point site is located on a patch of downtown riverfront property which was once home to some of the city’s first established merchants. The site currently consists of a parking lot and a riverwalk.
Changes in Cabrini
Tides continued to shift in Cabrini-Green this year as the once concentrated public housing block made way for new development. In March, the Chicago Housing Authority moved about twenty families from the neighborhood’s older rowhouses, which were once in line for a rehab project but will now likely be demolished and replaced with mixed-income housing.
A few blocks north of the residential complex, retail giant Target Corp. recently broke ground on a store set to be built on the site of a former public housing high rise. Local leaders have welcomed the store as a job creator for the community.
See ya, CJ
The year ended on a somber note for the Chicago Journal and Chicago Journal’s Skyline title when it was announced in November that the papers, facing financial problems, would be closed and put up for sale, respectively.
Launched in 2000 by Dan Haley, who publishes the Oak Park-based Wednesday Journal Inc., Chicago Journal covered neighborhood news on the Near West Side and in the South and West Loop.
However, Skyline will live on under the direction of its new owner, Inside Publications.