Monday, April 05, 2010

John Buck gets his new Park - do we get to name it?

Your tax dollars at work. Above is a photo of the progress of the new pocket park you're bankrolling to the tune of $7 million in TIF money to give the spectacular arcade of Goettsch Partners handsome new 155 North Wacker a more congenial endpoint than a shear wall of alley brick with a faded block letter advertisement for window shades.

According to information in the newsletter of 42nd ward alderman Brendan Reilly, the park "will contain 9,245 square feet of grassy area, low-rise plantings, 23 trees, bicycle parking and seating." 155 North Wacker developer John Buck, reports Reilly . . .
anticipates completion of the park and its landscaping by July 2010.

The Buck Company will construct and maintain the park in perpetuity, however there is a Development and Maintenance agreement in place to return ownership back to the city upon completion. That agreement designates the park land as public open space in perpetuity.
Let's hope "perpetuity" lasts longer than the beautiful park next to Buck's AMA building, which was leveled, after the city failed to take Buck up on his offer to sell it to them, for the just-opened Palomar Hotel.At the moment, the park remains nameless. Should we begin a campaign to convince Reilly and Buck that it should named after Harry Heftman? Harry was the guy who, for over half a century, sold hot dogs at his 300 W. Randolph restaurant where, about a year ago, Mayor Daley and other luminaries stopped by to help Harry celebrate his 100th birthday, just before the city came in and smacked the building down to the ground to make way for the new park?It's not just the big money, but the small gestures that give the streets their woof and weave. No less than with the Crowns or the Pritzkers, the spirit of Chicago is the product of legends like Harry Heftman, who create the micro institutions that give the city character all the way down to the countertops of a cozy corner restaurant, polishing the bedrock of the everyday with a genial smile.


Isaac said...

I'm totally in favor of this idea. A small plaque describing who Harry Heftman is would be a nice touch.

How about naming it the "Heftman Hang out".

FGFM said...

I'm sure Harry is a nice guy and I salute his indefatigability, but his hot dogs really sucked.

Pete said...

Heftman Park is a marvelous name. And if the city had any soul whatsoever, it would allow a hotdog cart to operate there. IF it had a soul, mind you.

Interesting you should mention the Crowns, who just a block away from this site tore down the old Mercantile Exchange building in 2002. It's been a vacant lot ever since, with its sole functional use being a temporary staging area for two Batman movies. The city would have been much better off had the building been renovated and reused, but of course we can't have that, now can we?

Anonymous said...

Im jonesing for some Dan Kiley right about now.

James Iska said...

From the artist's rendering the park appears to be vastly inferior to the charming Showmen's League Building which housed Harry's Hot Dogs, making it undeserving of the name Heftman.

The hot dog cart would be a nice touch however.

Anonymous said...

i love the rough brick wall to the north overlooking the park, such a nice touch ... maybe they'll tear that bldg down too since it doesn't match????

seriously, though, its a shame they tore down the Showman's bldg to make room for this park ... wouldn't the empty parking lot to the immediate south (not including the former merc site) have been a better idea for a park than demolishing one of the few remaining pre-1900 low-rise brick buildings in the downtown core?

there are plans to replace the parking garage east of here (next to the el) with an office tower similar to 155 wacker. also, a park space mirroring this one will replace the walgreen's location on the opposite corner as well.

marko said...

The Loop is getting so F**king sterile its sad. In 10 years it will be one continuous glass lobby you need an id badge to enter as you scurry from cubical to food court and back again before getting on 290 and going home.

Matt said...

It still boggles the mind that the Merc building got torn down. For a second you can almost kid yourself into believing that kind of grotesque behavior was something left behind in the distant past. But we here in Chicago know better.

Its a travesty what has happened to the Loop the past 15 years. It has completely lost its soul. I have no problem with investment and I realize it is preferable to the alternative. But I dont understand why that has to be at the expense of what makes this a great city in the first place.

As far as the Showmens building is concerned...what a waste. It wasnt high art, but at least it had character and a human-scale presence...something which all of a sudden is very much lacking in this part of the city. Its only a matter of time before those old brick buildings to the north come down as well. That corner has been turned into a wasteland. Whats more is that insipid park which exists for no other reason than to please the corporate overlords next door will remain there "in perpetuity".

Anonymous said...

I work in the Buck building.

You feel very isolated from the rhythms of the city.

This will make it more so.

(BTW: I heard the park was to help Buck get the LEED rating he sought. If that's true, the LEED people know nothing about building in the urban environment.)