Coyotes have adapted to big city living

By Elisa Shoenberger

There are 3,000 to 4,000 coyotes living in the Chicago area, according to Stanley Gehrt, professor at Ohio State University. And they can be found across city, even in Grant Park and Graceland Cemetery.

“They are finding ways to use all parts of the landscape in most parts of Chicago,” Dr. Gehrt said. Coyotes make use of green spaces, such as cemeteries and golf courses, but also may curl up in bushes during the day and people might not notice them. 

Their population began increasing in the 1990s, but numbers have leveled off in the past ten years, according to Gehrt.

Some residents could be concerned about a predator living in Chicago. But the number of problems has been low, only a few incidents per year, said Seth Magle, Director of the Urban Wildlife Institute at the Lincoln Park Zoo. “Ninety-nine percent of these coyotes are really good at not drawing attention,” he said.

Coyotes are good at finding places to avoid humans. Golf courses are great because they aren’t used much during the winter, Magle said. One coyote even had a den of pups in Soldier Field’s parking lot in 2014. The best time to see the animals is at sunset in cemeteries like Graceland or Rose Hill in Uptown. 

Occasionally, a coyote’s behaviour is unpredictable, like the coyote who walked into a cooler at a Quiznos downtown restaurant in 2007. But that’s unusual, Magle said, likely the result of some strange interactions between humans and the animal. When not hiding from humans, coyotes hunt rabbits and rodents, which is great for keeping those populations down.

The animals have made other interesting adaptations. Gehrt’s research found some coyotes look both ways before crossing the road, which is necessary in busy traffic areas. Through direct observation and cameras on the coyotes themselves, scientists have seen them observing traffic and adjusting their crossing strategies. 

The Urban Wildlife Institute has a scientist citizen project called Chicago Wildlife Watch in which people help scientists gather data on animal patterns. There are remote motion-sensitive cameras set up throughout the city. People can access the photos and tag animals in photos to help scientists gather data

Phone scammers steal millions annually, but better tech may offer help for consumers

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Three years ago Emily got a weird call.

Emily—not her real name—answered her cell phone and someone told her some recent computer work she’d had done had overbilled her. She was owed $299.

“But in order to (refund it), I had to give them access to my checking account, which is the stupidest thing you can do but they’re so good at this and they sound so sincere,” she said.

Instead, the refund set in motion a scam that lasted years and drained tens of thousands from Emily’s bank account. Once the scammers had her account, they deposited a refund almost $10,000 in excess of the refund amount, only to call back, apologize for the so-called mistake and then demand a wire transfer of $10,000 to make up for their error.

Of course, there was no error. The check they deposited was no good, but it showed up in Emily’s account before it was flagged, so as far as Emily could tell, someone really had mistakenly deposited thousands of dollars in her account.

Emily lives downtown and she’s retired, but phone scams can happen to anyone and they’re not rare. And even though Emily is one of the lucky ones—she ended up getting most of her money back—she is so embarrassed about what happened she only agreed to speak anonymously.

After the scammers called her to report their overpayment, they told her she needed to transfer the excess money from a specific Wells Fargo branch in Evanston.

“The most surprisingly thing was, I got the cab and I said I need to go to a Wells Fargo bank on Howard Street in Evanston,” she said. “We were driving and we weren’t very far and the cab driver said, ‘I know exactly where that bank is because I took another woman there about your age yesterday and I said, ‘Oh man, this is just a huge scam.’”

But, in case it wasn’t, she went anyway because scammers can be very persuasive.

Scammers can spin convincing stories but these days they’re also aided by telephone technology, a resource that once protected or at least warned consumers if something seemed fishy.

No longer.

Tom Kossow is the director of the Midwest region office of the Federal Trade Commission, the federal office in charge of protecting consumers. Kossow said scammers can imitate legitimate-sounding businesses or government offices and these scams bring in millions every year.

“We received 143,000 thousand complaints last year $55 million dollars in reported losses,” Kossow said.

With cell phones, everyone has access to caller ID, but caller ID is irrelevant in the age of VoIP systems or voice over internet protocol. VoIP systems are cheap or free to set up. The system routes a phone call through the Internet and in that way, the original phone number may be masked and a fake or even another legitimate phone number can be passed off as the call’s origin.

Kossow said one current popular scam involves Social Security imposter calls.

“Consumers are receiving calls from a spoofed number that shows it’s the Social Security Administration,” he said. “Victims will be told their Social Security number has been suspended due to suspicious activity.”

This is a variation on another classic scam, a call from the IRS requesting immediate payment. Scammers then request payment via gift card or money transfer or another anonymous payment system.

“The Social Security Administration is not going to call you with this sort of request,” Kossow said.

But scammers will and they have. Kossow said in the past 12 months his offices received 76,000 reports of this scam.

Kossow said if someone is the victim of a scam—or if someone knows a victim—they can call 1-877-FTC-HELP or 1-877-382-4357 or they can report the scam online at www.consumer.ftc.gov.

If the scammer is based in the United States, Kossow said consumers should also complain to the Better Business Bureau and the state’s attorney general’s office.

“Both of those organizations mediate complaints so they will contact the company and let them know they received a complaint about you,” Kossow said. “One thing we found out with people who operate frauds is, they know they are operating a fraud so they want to keep their complaints low, so they will often issue a refund at that point just so they can tell those organizations that they issued a refund.”

Finally, there is a bright spot for wary consumers. Some cell phone carriers are investing into call blocking or better caller ID technology to alert consumers for would-be scammers. Kossow said consumers can check with their phone provider to learn about those options and people can use Nomorobo, an app which alerts users to robo calls and works on Android and iPhone systems. This is one of the few outside apps the federal government does recommend, Kossow said.

“A few years ago the FTC issued a challenge to technologists and offered a reward to come up with technology that would block illegal robocalls and the winner of the challenge was Nomorobo and now that is generally available.”

Streeterville restaurant launches signature beer

(Published July 31, 2019)

The Signature Room, the restaurant located on the 95th floor of the former John Hancock Center, announced in July the launch of its first exclusive beer label, Top View Brew. The beer is a result of a partnership with suburban brewery Crystal Lake Brewing, currently offered exclusively at The Signature Room.

“We have been fans of Crystal Lake Brewing for quite some time—and their Beach Blonde has been a top seller for years—so partnering with them on a custom beer was a no-brainer,” said The Signature Room’s VP of Sales and Marketing, Tricia Bryant. “We hope Top View Brew will be a beverage that guests want to enjoy not just during the summer, but all year-round.

Top View Brew is a golden wheat ale with smooth malt sweetness, low bitterness and a bright lemon aroma at 4.5 percent alcohol by volume. The brew pairs well with salads, along with light fish and chicken dishes and can handle spicy foods and cut through heavier dishes. 

Fire station gets Ritz-Carlton heron statue

Streeterville’s Engine Co. 98, 202 E Chicago Ave., added an historic heron statue to their Chicago Fire Department Garden in June. 

The statue was donated after an extensive renovation by the Ritz-Carlton. The sculpture of two blue herons was previously part of the lobby fountain. Ritz-Carlton’s general manager Peter Simoncelli said the sculpture has been seen in wedding and anniversary photos dating back to 1975. The heron statue was removed during renovations to the Ritz-Carlton in 2017. 

New restaurant to open in Northwestern Memorial Hospital

The New York City-based Craveable Hospitality Group will open a new restaurant on the 18th floor of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, 251 E. Huron later this year.

GreenRiver formerly occupied the space, but closed in 2018.

Craveable declined to offer any details on the new venture, but as of mid-July, the group had posted hiring notices for a head chef and staff. 

According to the hiring notice, “The property will be 200 seats with an upscale American a la carte menu, plus a large catering kitchen and events space, on the outpatient pavilion of Northwestern Memorial Hospital.“

Mayor Lightfoot, Superintendent Johnson welcome nearly 300 new, promoted officers in Navy Pier ceremony   

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Department (CPD) Superintendent Eddie Johnson congratulated the newest class of 196 Police Officers and 98 newly promoted chiefs, deputy chiefs, commanders, lieutenants, sergeants and evidence technicians in a July 9 ceremony at Navy Pier. 

“Today, with their graduation or promotion, our officers are not only joining or renewing their commitment to a proud community of brothers and sisters, but they’re also fulfilling a sense of duty to the city we all love,” Lightfoot said. “As they embark or continue on this journey, I want all of Chicago’s officers to know that your city will be with you every step of the way.”

The 196 new police officers graduating includes 68 percent from minority backgrounds, with 44 percent identifying as Hispanic, 16 percent African-American and 8 percent Asian-American. In addition, 31 percent of graduates are female. 

Approximately 36 percent of the officers graduated from Chicago Public Schools and 13 percent are military veterans. 

Before graduating, police recruits spent six months at the police academy and they will now begin their one-year probationary period, which includes three months of training with a field training officer and district patrol functions.

Streeterville residents celebrate Cap Streeter anniversary

In July, dozens of Streeterville residents gathered at Streeterville Pizzeria and Tap for a Run A’Ground party to celebrate the anniversary of ‘Cap’ Streeter running aground in the area. 

On July 10, 1866, Captain George Streeter ran his boat aground in Lake Michigan, in what is now Streeterville. Over the next fear years, Streeter encouraged developers and residents to dump debris in the shallow water and eventually he developed the real estate. 

Gail Spreen, a realtor with Streeterville Properties, hosted the event, and she called July 10 a neighborhood holiday. Sculptor Dennis Downes, the artist behind the Streeter statue on Grand Avenue was on hand as was Alderman Brian Hopkins, who dressed as Streeter and channeled the neighborhood founder. 

“Many fine things happened on this day,” Hopkins said. “A future alderman’s mother was born on this day.”

Navy Pier breaks ground on first pier hotel 

Developers broke ground in mid-July on the first hotel on Navy Pier. ACRON, a real estate investment firm; Maverick Hotels & Restaurants, a hotel management and development company and Navy Pier are developing the project. 

The property, scheduled to open spring 2020, will operate under the exclusive Curio Collection by Hilton, which includes more than 50 independent hotels around the world.

The new hotel will be located adjacent to Festival Hall at the eastern end of the complex. The hotel will offer 222 guest rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows that showcase views of the city’s famed skyline, Lake Michigan and the Pier. The hotel will also offer a first floor restaurant, a fitness center and a 30,000-square-foot rooftop restaurant, bar and event space.

Officials said the hotel development has already led to 600 construction jobs and is expected to create 300 permanent positions.

A Dallas Ferris wheel operator aims to break Navy Pier ride record

According to the Dallas Observer, the operator of a Dallas-based Ferris wheel aims to break the world record for longest Ferris wheel ride. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the record for the longest ride is currently held by Clinton Shepherd, a park operations manager at Navy Pier, who, in 2014, rode the Pier’s Ferris wheel for two days, eight minutes and 25 seconds. 

Now, Ferris Wheelers Backyard and BBQ in Dallas is seeking applications for anyone willing to take a longer ride. 

“We’ve put some feelers out there to see if we could get the public interested in breaking the record,” said Phillip Schanbaum, in the Dallas Observer. Schanbaum is the co-owner of Ferris Wheelers Backyard and BBQ. “We want to give ourselves a bit of a cushion on the time, so we’re going for 72 hours. We need to do a little bit more research on some of the stipulations for Guinness, but to our knowledge, there is a five-minute break per hour.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Navy Pier, Payal Patel, wished the Dallas operater all the best. 

“While Clinton Shepherd is no longer an employee at Navy Pier, we are still very proud of the world record he set on the Pier’s behalf in 2014,” Patel said. “Navy Pier extends its best wishes to the individual in Dallas seeking to set a new record for the longest ride on an amusement park attraction.”

In June the Pier got its second Guiness Book of World Records entry after its rooftop deck, Offshore opened. The size of a football field, the deck is—so far—the biggest deck in the world. 

Chicago’s Art Cows returned home in July

Two decades after Chicago’s Cows on Parade exhibit launched the international Cow Parade craze in the United States, the city’s decorative fiberglass cows were rounded up for July and set on display at Jane M. Byrne Plaza, next to the Chicago Water Tower. 

The cows were decorated by area artists and auctioned off for charity, and the parade set off a trend of copycat cities across the United States. Today, the cows are owned by various businesses and art collectors across the region, but for the 20th anniversary of the project, the Magnificent Mile Association reached out to a handful of owners who agreed to let the cows out on loan for a month as part of the “Cows Come Home” seasonal art project.  Adam Skaf, a spokesperson for the association, said August marks the 150th anniversary of the Chicago Water Tower, so pedestrians can expect to discover more than 25 five-foot models of the tower along Michigan Avenue all month long. 

Navigating drone laws may be tricky for operators in Chicago

(Published July 31, 2019)
By Elisa Shoenberger, Staff writer

It may be tempting to fly a drone downtown whether to get a bird’s eye view on the Lollapalooza crowds or to get a unique shot of the skyline, it may be impossible to do so legally. 

Chicago’s laws allow drone operators to fly their craft with a permit, but according to afficionados, getting a permit is near impossible thanks to confusing, byzantine rules. 

“All drones are restricted unless given a permit for flying,” said Anthony Guglielmi, Chief Communications Officer of Chicago Police Department. 

In addition to a permit, operators have to get permission from the property owner and in the case of Grant Park, that would be the Chicago Parks District. Without that permission and without a permit, operators face citations. 

Jeffrey Antonelli is a drone enthusiast and also a lawyer, and he believes the city’s laws wouldn’t stand up in court. Antonelli points out that since the Federal Aviation Administration regulates air space and not the city, Chicago’s air regulations would probably be thrown out if someone challenged them in court. Nevertheless, Antonelli said he doesn’t fly drones in the city.

Alan Perlman, CEO of UAV Coach, a drone training company, said the FAA classified Grant Park airspace as Class G, meaning it is uncontrolled airspace, so recreational drone pilots should be able to fly there under federal law. 

Even so, getting a permit is hard. 

Antonelli said some people have tried getting a permit from the park district and while he’s heard some success stories, he’s been unable to get one. 

“The city doesn’t have a uniform answer,” Antonelli said. 

A spokesperson for the parks district could not explain how to get a permit. 

The FAA mandates that people cannot fly drones over people or cars for safety concerns and pilots must be able to see their drone at all times and they cannot fly higher than 400 feet.

Perlman said people should first learn how to use their drone. 

“You are bringing a flying lawnmower into the air. It’s really important to have intimate understanding of how the aircraft works.” 

CPD: Gang taunts led to Navy Pier stabbings

(Published July 8, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson on Monday said two stabbings that happened shortly after 10 p.m. July 4 at Navy Pier were gang-related and the suspects are still at large. The victims have not been cooperating with police, Johnson said.

“The stabbings resulted from some gang-affiliated people taunting each other,” he said. “We have ideas of who the individuals were, but the victims were very uncooperative.”

A 14-year-old boy, a 15-year-old boy and a 30-year-old man were stabbed and police continue searching for two suspects. The victims were not involved in a fight that happened outside the security check, Johnson said.

Johnson was speaking at a news conference covering the violence across the city over the Independence Day holiday, from July 3 through July 7. Johnson said during that period officers picked up 199 illegally-owned guns, there were 42 shooting incidents and six murders. Englewood had the most shootings.

Johnson added police arrested 84 people for weapons violations. He reminded the public there is no reason to own an illegal weapon.

“There’s no excuse for carrying illegal guns in the city,” he said. “We can’t let gangs and guns overpower the community and the city of Chicago.”

Westchester boy a superhero is Streeterville

(Published June 30, 2019)

Finnegan Kuzniar, 6, of Westchester saved Chicago from evil villains with help from Make-A-Wish Illinois volunteers and the Chicago Police Department. Kuzniar was diagnosed with a life-threatening auto-immune disease and even a common cold can send him to the hospital for a long stay.

In June, the Make-A-Wish Illinois chapter allowed Kuzniar to live out his dream to become his superhero alter-ego Galacto in Streeterville.

This included a ride-along in a police roll call, a helicopter ride and a pursuit of bad guys and with capture at Navy Pier. Following that, there was a press conference wherein the Chicago Police Department praised Kuzniar for his heroic efforts.

For Kuzniar’s wish, the Chicago Police Department, Columbia College Chicago costume team and Costumers With a Cause have all volunteered their time and talent to craft this remarkable experience.

Make-a-Wish believes that fulfilling children’s wishes helps kids look past their limitations, helps families overcome anxiety and helps entire communities experience joy. Since its local founding in 1985, the chapter has granted more than 15,000 wishes. A child does not necessarily have to have a terminal diagnosis to qualify. For information visit: illinois.wish.org.

Navy Pier launches ‘Piertastic Tuesday’ discount program

In June, the Navy Pier announced a weekly discount program available to all guests. 

Dubbed “Piertastic Tuesday,” the program will run through September 3 and visitors will have the opportunity to take advantage of special Pier-wide deals and promotions from on-site attractions, dining establishments, entertainment options, retail shops and more. Visitors can  mention Piertastic Tuesday at any participating establishments to redeem discounts.

Piertastic Tuesday offers include buy-one-get-one-free Play the Park Passes to Pier Park attractions and $20 parking passes for up to 12 hours. Pier Park attractions include the iconic Centennial Wheel, Pepsi Wave Swinger, carousel and more. Parking can be validated with a sticker from the Pier Park Box Office or the Navy Pier Guest Services Desk, located in the Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion.

Aster Hall offers new space for happy hour

Hogsalt’s latest concept, Aster Hall, located on the 5th & 6th floors of the 900 North Michigan Shops, debuted its first happy hour menu in June. Available Monday through Friday from 4:30-6:30 p.m., guests can enjoy the happy hour specials in the food hall’s upstairs Bar & Study area.

Aster Hall’s spacious upstairs Bar & Study invites guests to experience the new happy hour menu while taking in views of Michigan Avenue and the lake.  Specials include signature drinks Dark & Stormy, a tiki classic with rum and ginger beer; Gold Rush, a refreshing bourbon drink with honey; and the Gimlet, a vibrant cocktail that can be made with vodka or gin.  All happy hour specials are available for $8.

Guests can also choose from a collection of curated beverages and other specialty spirits available on the full Bar & Study menu. In addition to the happy hour cocktails, the bar also hosts a selection of all day specials, including $5 wine and beer and $9 highballs.

Purple Pig gets a new home

The Purple Pig, the popular Michigan Avenue dinner and drinks spot, moved from 500 N. Michigan Ave. to 444 N. Michigan Ave. in June. 

The Purple Pig features a James Bear Award-winning chef and partner Jimmy Bannos Jr., who explained the restaurant needed more space for the 10-year-old restaurant. 

“The time was right to pursue a larger space more uniquely suited to the needs of our business, which continues to grow year after year,” said Bannos.. “Our team is proud to call The Magnificent Mile home, and we feel very fortunate to have landed this exciting space.”

The 4,657 square foot restaurant will feature 120 dining room seats and will include a 20-seat semi- private dining room ideal for small groups for all occasions.

Lightfoot sworn into office, brings message of optimism

Published May 20, 2019

On May 20, US District Judge Susan Cox swore in Lori Lightfoot as Chicago’s mayor at a ceremony attended by thousands at the Wintrust Arena.

Lightfoot is the city’s first openly gay and African American female mayor, and the significance was not lost of Lightfoot.

“I can’t help but feel the spirit of the late great mayor, Harold Washington,” she said.  Washington was the city’s first African American mayor and he stepped into office in 1983 and left in 1987. Lightfoot’s mention of Washington drew a standing ovation.

But it was a historic day for others, too, as Lightfoot noted. Besides Lightfoot, Melissa Conyears-Ervin was sworn in as city treasurer and Anna Valencia was sworn in as the city clerk. All are African American women and this is the first time voters elected African American females to all three citywide positions.

The city’s aldermen were also sworn in.

For her first speech as mayor, Lightfoot’s message was an optimistic and firm promise to unite the city, and work for the betterment of those who need help. In addition, she promised to end aldermanic privilege after the inauguration ceremony.

“I’m looking ahead to a city of safe streets and strong schools for every child regardless of neighborhood or zip code,” she said. “A city where people want to grow old and not flee. A city of sanctuary against fear where no one must hide in the shadows. A city that is affordable for families and seniors and where every job pays a living wage. A city of fairness and hope and prosperity for the many, not just for the few, a city that holds equity and inclusion as our guiding principles.”

She made reference to recent anti-abortion laws passed in Alabama, and she promised that Chicago would fight for women’s rights.

“We must stand with women all across our country who fear for their basic rights and feel powerless in the face of the hateful legislation designed to control our bodies, our choices,” she said. “We cannot go back – not in Chicago, not as a nation.  We will join together and we will fight.”

This, too, drew thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

She also looked inward, at the problems within City Hall, an institution plagued by a history of corruption and she promised reform. She told the audience after the inauguration, she would sign an executive order ending aldermanic privilege, a tradition that allows aldermen to pass or block city government actions that could hurt or benefit their wards. Critics have charged the system allows for corruption, favoritism and inconsistent application of ordinances around the city.

“It means this,” she said. “It means ending their unilateral and unchecked control over every single thing that goes on in their wards. Aldermen will have a voice but not a veto. This is the time of for a new era of trust.”

This promise drew some of the loudest, most sustained applause.

Following the ceremony, City Hall hosted an open house for the public.

New Montessori School open in Streeterville

By Jesse Wright|May 1, 2019

Guidepost Montessori, 226 E. Illinois St., opened its doors in April. The new school has programs for kids from 12 months to 6 years old.

Head of School Sarah Silverman said enrollment has been going well with 49 kids signed up so far. Silverman explained that the Guidepost Montessori schools encourage kids to learn through play, so the rooms are filled with practical toys like sinks and dishes, where the kids develop motor skills and they also learn how the household works.

“It’s high choice and it’s high structure,” Silverman said.

Silverman said every class has two teachers in it, and there is also a Spanish immersion program.

At an open house for parents in early April, Jezail Jackson, a mother of two said her husband was educated at Montessori schools and wants to get their children enrolled.

“I believe the value is that  they provide a space for kids to be taught from the very start,” she said. “And in Montessori, they teach in a way that allows the kids to lead themselves. It’s really amazing.”

Max Chen blows on a pinwheel with a balloon animal at the Guidepost Montessori open house in April. Photo by Jesse Wright

State police urge protesting truckers to obey traffic laws when they are downtown

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

(Published April 12, 2019)

Illinois State Police have warned a group of truckers that have planned a “slow roll” protest in downtown Chicago they may face legal consequences if their protest breaks the law.

The protest is scheduled for late morning and afternoon April 12 in front of the Trump Hotel.

The protest is helmed by a trucking rights group known as Black Smoke Matters and the group has been organizing slow roll protests—protests that snarl traffic—in communities across the country.

The group is calling the event a “trucker’s shutdown” and they posted on Twitter a list of their requested changes in federal trucking law. Among other things the group is demanding better education for drivers, work flexibility and repealing the mandated use of electronic logging devices.

However, the Illinois State Police are noting that traffic congestion and backups are a cause of car crashes.

“The Illinois State Police urges all motorists to abide by traffic laws for the safety of all. Traffic backups are a significant contributing cause of traffic crashes, which lead to property damage, personal injury, and possibly death,” ISP District 15 Acting Captain Dominic Chiappini said in a press release. “Though the Illinois State Police respects the rights of citizens to express their opinions in a lawful manner, any planned event designed to intentionally impede normal traffic flow is dangerous to the innocent motoring public. Violators who choose to endanger the public by participating in events that violate Illinois law, could potentially be held liable for traffic crashes occurring as a result of their actions, and will be subject to the enforcement of applicable laws.”

Riverwalk to re-emerge with new look


(Published April 1, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, staff writer

As the weather turns warm and the streets of the city begin to go from brown to green, the Riverwalk, too, is reemerging after months of extensive renovations.

In mid-December, the city closed the thin, serpentine ribbon of land hugging Wacker Dr., from about Michigan Avenue, and excavators scraped the landscape bare. But finally, later this month, the Riverwalk will re-open, fresh and newly developed, though landscaping will continue through the end of Spring, according to a city spokesperson.

The 1.2-mile development project is focused on some of the oldest parts of the Riverwalk, according to a news release and the spokesperson said the renovation is intended to accommodate more visitors and businesses.

The Riverwalk is a hotspot for dining, drinking and boating recreation as well as bicyclists, joggers and walkers. Urban Kayaks, Island Party Hut, The Northman, and Chicago’s First Lady operate businesses along this portion of the Riverwalk though more will be coming.

“Vendors in the Esplanade section are also making improvements to their locations,” said the spokesperson. “A portion of the Civic District will be getting a new community marketplace. Eight new Riverwalk vendors will be in operation beginning in June.”

There is not an exact date for the re-opening, the spokesperson said it would likely be at the end of April.

“A new path is being installed along with new lighting, seating, landscaping and a railing along the dockwall,” the spokesperson explained. “A new Community Marketplace is also being constructed between Wabash and Michigan Avenues. Portions of the ramp have been removed to create the market which will feature local minority- and women-owned businesses. An elevator is also being installed in this area.”

In addition to commercial improvements, the city will invest heavily in native plants.

“More than 100 new trees are included in the landscaping, which will provide a diverse variety of species,” the spokesperson said. “The new seating areas will be available to the public and guests of the businesses in that area to enjoy a picnic or beverage.”

The project is expected to cost $10 million, according to a city news release issued last year. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the project will boost the city’s economy.

“The riverfront investments we are making will make the entire 1.25-mile stretch inviting to residents and visitors, increase recreational opportunities and continue to promote economic growth,” he said.

The work is being done by Fleet and Facility Management, the city department that oversees the Riverwalk.

(Snag the before/after images from P. 14/15). Caption: The Riverwalk project will bring more venders to the popular walking area and it will also add more greenery and more space for pedestrians. Photo and artist’s rendering courtesy the City of Chicago

While the Riverwalk was still nowhere near finished in late March, the city expects to have the area finished in late April. Photo by Jesse Wright

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