|click images for larger view|
|The Swimming Hole, south bank of Chicago River, LaSalle to Wells|
The Swimming Hole is actually a zero-depth fountain that kids could run through. “This is the block,” says Woods, “that has the most amount of sunlight throughout the day. This could be a very fun place for families and enjoy a nice day. There's all kinds of technology and different things you can do so that the floor could look like a dance floor and light up as the water sprays, as the kids run through. It could light up and interact with the kids climbing on it.” The concept includes “more robust” bathroom facilities that would include rooms where kids could change in and out of their swimsuits.
|The Jetty, Wells to Franklin|
|The Boardwalk, Franklin to Lake Street|
|River Point Park|
|planned Wolf Point Riverwalk|
The ultimate objective is to draw 2.8 million people to the Riverwalk each year. Woods' presentation compared this to Lincoln Park (3 million visitors annually), New York's High Line (3.7 million), and at 5.1 million, the San Antonio River Walk, the gold standard that Ernie Pyle once referred to as ‘The Venice of America’.
The cost of completing the Chicago Riverwalk is estimated at $90-100 million, with over $3 million already spent on the design. The city is confident that funding will be available from the Federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. Last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation made available $17 billion in loan guarantees through the program's $1.7 billion in credit assistance.
TIFA would finance the Chicago Riverwalk via a 30-year loan at a reduced rate of interest. The loans, often used for things such as toll roads, require a revenue stream to pay them back. For the Chicago Riverwalk completion, one proposal is to repay TIFA from a TIF, with Woods mentioning revenue from the Riverwalk concessions as another possibility. How many concessions and closings for private parties would you need to come up with the over $3 million a year needed to pay back the loan? And if all the Riverwalk's revenue went to debt service, where would the money come from for regular maintenance?
interview with Tanya Snyder of the DC.StreetsBlog, outgoing U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says that a formal announcement may come as early as next month. If everything goes well, construction could begin this year, with a completion time of 15 to 18 months per block.
Read: Finishing the Chicago Riverwalk
Part One - Introduction and Block One: The Marina
Part Two - Opera on the River? (or Maybe just some jazz)