Would be curious to hear from riders who are on this part of the LFP with regularity how they feel about this museum development.
Do you feel this will completely glut this part of the path with tourists and Divvy bikes gone wild? Will you avoid it entirely? My understanding is the plan for the museum has at least been considerably scaled down.
for David Barish
In addition to commuting to the Museum Campus by bike countless times, I've taken hundreds of lunchtime walks from the Field Museum (been here since 97) to the proposed site, and while in general I am all for a fairly militant approach to preserving open space and the lakefront, I think this is going to be a net positive.
A few things I factor in:
1. The parking lot as it stands is certainly not freely accessible to the public.
2. This isn't really "the lakefront." There is a roadway separating the existing parking lot from the green space, which then is restricted by Burnham Harbor. The Harbor is also not accessible to the public, unless you are one of the small number of folks who can afford the very substantial rent to dock a boat there. Northerly Island and 12th Street Beach are effectively the Lakefront, and this museum isn't going to impact them, although I hear a Gang Studio bridge that was to connect the Lucas site to Northerly Island is no longer in the plan.
3. We get a lot of quality new green space out of this. This was the carrot Lucas' team dangled to the Museum Campus institutions, and it was effective. This won't be just turfgrass, but native landscaping that will also support biodiversity along the lakefront corridor.
4. Traffic congestion is unlikely to get any worse. Soldier Field events and Northerly Island concerts are what attract massive numbers of drivers in a tight timeframe. The site where the Lucas Museum is going is a dead zone the vast, vast majority (I'd unscientifically peg it at over 95%) of the year.
5. What kills the Museum Campus for public transit users is that buses have to cross Columbus and LSD. Throw in the increasing number of running charity events, parades, etc. and access can be difficult for visitors relying on the CTA or taxis. Lucas isn't going to change any of that one way or the other.
But, the extra umph from another large museum might help sway the CTA to restore better service from the 146, which at the moment only has every other bus going to the Museum Campus. The Roosevelt bus doesn't come here any more, and few people are aware (or want to walk with a family) of the 11th and Columbus bus stop which will get people who don't mind a modest walk and hill right to our door. We all retain hope that we might ultimately get some Star Wars-esque monorail, or perhaps even an AT-AT themed shuttle that could pick people up on the campus, walk over LSD and Columbus and drop people right on to the Roosevelt L platform. Not holding my breath for that one, but we can dream.
6. No, we are not giving away the land for nothing and getting burned. Lucas will get the same deal all the museums get, we're all basically living rent free but we don't own the land, it can be repo'd at any time should we stray from our mission. Lucas will be a non-profit, and will produce hundreds of living wage professional jobs. Professors at Columbia, Roosevelt, DePaul, UIC, the SAIC and other colleges will learn how to make use of this place, the same way biological science and anthropology professors do the Field's collections, etc.
I will miss the sledding hill. That's my walk, I go through the police memorial park, head to the top of that hill and just enjoy the view - it's also why I am 100% confident nobody is going to miss that parking lot. I can't imagine how this would seriously impact the bike path. Divvy has been great for the Museum Campus btw, you can get to the Roosevelt, Harold Washington Library, Jackson blue line stops in 5-10 minutes. A gamechanger on those days when the bus is (I wish I was exaggerating) a 20 minute wait and then 20 minute ride from Van Buren and State to the campus.
I swear I read somewhere (but couldn't find it yesterday with a quick search) that Lucas is agreeing to essentially deal with whatever environmental contamination issues they find when they break ground, which could be extensive given how (and when) that area was infilled. My understanding has been that the potential contamination issues are another reason this area has just sat as parking lot until Lucas came along---the City doesn't want to deal with converting it to green space and finding out it has to do millions in remediation.
EDIT: Found the article for anyone interested in what Lucas is taking on to build there: http://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/7/71/161517/lucas-site-woe-tra...
Oh, those are definitely confirmed contamination issues, I have the EPA reports and they are a very disturbing read. When they tore down the old Park Administration building some of the contractors were throwing all kinds of asbestos and other hazardous materials into space dug up as part of the larger Soldier Field parking lot overhaul. Ugh and ugh.
The materials in question are being held in place underground with concrete, so although people originally wanted to put underground parking here, that's no longer the plan as I understand it (that article is from 2014, it prompted me to seek out the aforementioned EPA reports). Hence the need for new parking and the site stretching out over a larger area to the south.
btw, people interested in the Lakefront may enjoy this very thoroughly researched essay: