Chicago Children's Museum
In a newsletter sent out last week, 42nd ward alderman Brendan Reilly writes that the Chicago Children's Museum's proposal to build itself a new home in Grant Park will "very likely [be] heard at the April 17th, 2007 meeting" of the Chicago Plan Commission. It could be that the Museum thinks it has the votes to muscle its way through the Commission. Heavy lobbying has been going on in the City Council, with the Sun-Times reporting that the museum continues to play the race card in smearing opposition to its land grab as racist. The photo you see here is of the current park, derisively dismissed by Mayor Richard M. Daley as "nowhere".
David Axelrod - the Daley street fighter behind CCM's Push
The museum has retained high-powered lobbyists to advance its interests behind the scenes. In a profile of lobbyist (and Barack Obama's chief strategist) David Axelrod in the current Business Week, Reilly characterizes Axelrod's firm ASK Public Strategies as "the gold standard in Astroturf organizing. This is an emerging industry, and ASK has made a name for itself in shaping public opinion and manufacturing public support."
Axelrod's ASK is the politically-connected muscle behind the CCM's campaign. You can see the Astroturf under its fingernails in the hijacking of a community meeting on the proposal last year where museum supporters, of whom few, if any, appeared to be from the community, filled up the auditorium and forced the actual residents, overwhelmingly opposed to the CCM's plan, into side hallways. The gutter politics continued with Father Michael Pfleger who, based on an encounter with a single person attending the meeting, began echoing the canned message refrain that museum opponents were acting out of racist motives. Astroturf, in abundance. Will Axelrod's operatives succeed in placing their Astroturf blindfolds over the eyes of Plan Commission members?
In the aftermath of our recent story in the Chicago Reader on how the Commission on Chicago Landmarks is leaving important buildings like the 1888 Germania Club on Clark Street twisting in the wind, Alderman Brendan Reilly also announced that, "Because of its significance, I sent a letter to the Commissioner of Planning and Development asking that we pursue land-marking this structure. Although there are currently no redevelopment plans before us, I would prefer to be proactive rather than reactive in order to guarantee the re-use of this significant, and important historic structure. " The property was recently acquired by strip-mall developer Kimco Realty Corporation.
The indispensible Marina CityOnline website is reporting that Dick's Last Resort is suffering a number of setbacks in bringing its surly staff and penis-shaped hats to the concourse level of Marina City. A "Stop Work Order" from the Chicago Department of Buildings has been in effect since February 22nd, and in March Dick's failed ventilation, structural and electrical reviews. To date, no fewer than seven reviews, including architectural, fire prevention, plumbing and refrigeration, have been denied. The extent of Dick's intended alterations to the exterior of the iconic building have yet to be revealed.
Just across the street, as Crain's Chicago Business reported Tuesday , LaSalle Hotel Properties, the owner of Marina City's Hotel Sax, has closed on purchasing floors 2 through thirteen of the Mies van der Rohes designed IBM Building, aka 330 North Wabash, paying $46 million for 375,000 square feet that it plans for transform into a 335 room hotel. The project will benefit from tax breaks accrued from the buildings recent designation as an official Chicago landmark. A name for the property has yet to be announced. Mieshaus by Starke anyone? Think that sucks? Ok, smartguy(gal), let's see your bright ideas - post them in our comments section.
On the Ellis Levin front, MCO also carries a story on continuing efforts by resident Mindy Verson to learn the full extent of the fees paid to the Marina Towers Condo Association's controversial attorney.
Marina City Online continues to add items to what has become an extraordinarily rich on-line portrait of the Marina City complex and its history. We'll have more on that, including the story of two extraordinary 1960's films that used Marina City as a location, a few days hence, but that's no reason not to check it all out for yourself here, with a huge gallery of images here.