A summer night on the South Branch: Great Rivers Chicago partners cruise the Chicago River - Metropolitan Planning Council

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A summer night on the South Branch: Great Rivers Chicago partners cruise the Chicago River

On August 29, 2017, Great Rivers Chicago partners joined MPC aboard a Wendella boat to tour the river, celebrate accomplishments, observe critical issues and discuss what’s next for implementing the Our Great Rivers vision as the boat traversed the river as far south as the Collateral Channel in Little Village!

MBA Photography

Kim Wasserman-Nieto, Executive Director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization

While the evening clouds cleared and turned to sun, the tour served as an opportunity for our many committed partners and supporters to view the major accomplishments over the last two years of the riverwalk. Carol Ross Barney of Ross Barney Architects and lead designer for the Chicago Riverwalk highlighted the unique features of the Riverwalk, which allowed Chicagoans to reimagine what could be possible for the rest of the system and invites visitors to connect with the water in ways they haven’t before.  As we cruised past underdeveloped and vacant land we heard about future visions of riverfront acres. Continuing southbound to Roosevelt road, speaker Gina Berndt described the Riverline development, which broke ground in Fall 2016 when CMK Companies, in addition to her design firm, Perkins & Will began developing on a 14-acre site that will include residential, retail, and public open space alongside the river. Passing under Amtrak Bridge north of Ping Tom Park, the 62-acre former rail yard has stood vacant for several decades. Curt Bailey of Related Midwest Development shared his company’s exciting prospects for the site, which includes 100 feet of public access between the river and the development – far beyond the required 30 feet.

In addition to showcasing our river’s development opportunities and their dynamic ecological habitat for people and wildlife, the tour visited areas where riverfront access limited. Kim Wasserman-Nieto, Executive Director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization described concerns in Little Village with odor emanating from the Collateral Channel and emphasized that one size does not fit all when considering where and how to develop and activate the riverfront.   

Although this exciting vision for Great Rivers Chicago is blossoming, there is still much work needed to be done in our collective efforts.

This success is only possible through our vital observations, fruitful discussions, and thriving investment. The exciting, flow of energy surrounding the riverfronts could easily be felt simultaneously as we were coasting along the river ourselves.

MPC thanks Wendella Boats, Ozinga, CenterPoint and CKL Engineers, LLC, whose generous support made this event possible.

Check out more photos from our tour of the Chicago River

MPC 2017 Chicago River Tour

Explore the vision for the Chicago region's three rivers

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