‘Cap the Kennedy’ plan may be revived thanks to real estate money

The project, originally pitched in 2003, still has backers including Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th)

TRD CHICAGO /
Jan.January 13, 2020 01:01 PM
Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) and Steven Fifield, with a rendering of the project

Renderings of the cap the Kennedy project, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) and developer Steven Fifield

It’s practically Chicago lore at this point. Developers and politicians have been floating the possibility of capping the Kennedy Expressway since 2003. Time and time again, it would disintegrate. All of which is to say, it’s back!

Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) says the time is now to place an urban park on top of the roaring highway, muffling traffic and providing greenspace for people in the West Loop. It would address the lack of open space and the growing traffic issues in the neighborhood. It would surely boost property values too.

Burnett’s plan relies on using tax increment financing (TIF) to help contain costs, which would have to be shared through a public-private partnership. The project is estimated to cost $50 million per block, or $200 million for the proposed stretch between Randolph and Adams streets, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“If we don’t use it, we lose it,” he told the paper. “That money has to be distributed back to all the taxing bodies, so let’s use it while we can.”

Development in the West Loop has been booming over the last few years due to an influx of young families and businesses moving to the area. Property taxes on office property has skyrocketed, building up funds which the project could tap into.

The project was originally pitched in 2003 as part of the Central Area Plan. It gained traction in 2012 and 2013 when developer Steven Fifield signed on with the project. Fifield hired the director at RATIO Architects to help design the project. The renderings are still listed on RATIO’s website. [Sun-Times]Jacqueline Flynn


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