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Design Battle Over Maggie Daley Park Restaurant Pushes Project to 2017

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The debate pits the Park District against Friends of the Parks and local Alderman

Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park opened to nearly universal praise in late 2014 but a plan for new restaurant at the park’s southern edge has proven far more controversial. Last year’s plan called for a June 2015 groundbreaking ahead of a projected early 2016 opening, but the site of the future restaurant has remained untouched since Friends of the Parks spoke out against it in April of 2015. Claiming that the park location violates the Lakefront Protection Ordinance, Friends of the Parks — the same group challenging the lakefront location of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art — has expressed its willingness to compromise on a scaled-down design.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the design has already shrunk this past year from 15,750 square feet to roughly 8,000 square feet. The building’s 23-foot green roof plus its 4-foot protective glass guardrail has remained a sticking point with Friends of the Parks who would like to see the total height reduced to 17 feet. It remains to be seen if the Park District can accommodate such a drastic request, but downtown Alderman Brendan Reilly has also come out in favor of pursuing a smaller design that better fits its surrounding and best satisfies all parties involved.

While representatives from both the Chicago Park District and the Grant Park Conservancy feel that the restaurant will be an important public amenity, extra care and time is being taken to get things right (and ideally avoid potential litigation). The proposal still needs City of Chicago approval, but the Park District is aiming to go before the Plan Commission with its final design next month. If approved the facility, which will be built and leased by its operators at Chicago-based Four Corners Tavern Group, would open for business no sooner than 2017.

·Design changes sideline Maggie Daley Park restaurant project [Chicago Tribune]

·New Maggie Daley Restaurant Caught Up in Park Land Debate [Curbed Chicago]

·New Maggie Daley Park Restaurant Concept Has Trees Growing Through the Dining Room [Curbed Chicago]