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Latest Plans Reveal Redesigned Restaurant for Maggie Daley Park

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Delayed one year, the revamped project will seek city approval later this month

While the April Plan Commission agenda revealed a down-sized version of the long-awaited restaurant slated for the southern edge of Maggie Daley Park, new elevation drawings and floor plans have shed some additional light on the redesigned and controversial proposal. The images come courtesy of the Grant Park Conservancy. According to the group’s President Bob O’Neill, the restaurant represents an important amenity to serve visitors and bring people to the park year-round.

At 8,000 square feet — roughly half the size of the 15,750-square-foot design released in 2015 — the revision is consistent with previous reports. In addition to its smaller size, the plans show a greatly expanded outdoor seating area. Roughly 240 seats will be spread across the restaurant's patio section, up from 50 outdoor spots presented in the previous design. Inside, customer seating has decreased from more than 300 down to just 120. The building will now sit a further five feet away from Monroe.

Designed by Space Architects + Planners, the airy glass structure retains what O’Neill describes as "elegant minimalism." The restaurant's green roof will act as an extension of the existing park (which is actually a giant green roof in of itself), creating additional green space in the process. While the downsized design no longer features enough space for trees to grow through the middle of the dining room, the plan will see additional trees added to the patio area. The Grant Park Conservancy is pushing for planting of even more trees to replace the mature examples that will be cleared during the construction process.

One of the biggest sticking points preventing the plan from moving forward was the overall height of the structure. Last month it was reported by the Chicago Tribune that the Friends of the Parks advocacy group called for the building’s 23-foot green roof plus its 4-foot protective glass guardrail to be reduced to an overall height no greater than 17 feet. The latest plans indicate that roof height will remain at 23 feet.

"There are people who believe that parks are not supposed to have amenities and just be grass," said O’Neill with regards to the delayed restaurant project. "Parks should be full of trees and landscaping as well as cultural attractions that attract people to use them. Our parks should adapt to modern times. Some organizations and people take a far more elitist perspective on our parks. We won't allow them to move our parks backwards."

With ground-breaking originally planned for June of 2015, the restaurant and its much-needed public restrooms have been delayed a full year by this point. If approved by the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council, the project is expected to be completed no sooner than 2017.