Extreme Makeover, Northerly Island Edition

Still replacing Meigs

By Steve Rhodes
|  Wednesday, Oct 6, 2010  |  Updated 9:16 AM CDT
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More than six years after Mayor Richard M. Daley conducted his infamous midnight raid on Meigs Field, the city is getting around to formally asking the public what it wants done with the plot of land called Northerly Island.

And don't say put an airport on it.

The major choices appear to be a nature park or super-sized recreation site based around a concert venue.

"What's so amazing about it is you stand on the island and you face the lake, you're surrounded by native plants, birds, sounds of crashing waves," Gia Biagi, the Chicago Park District's director of planning and development, told the Tribune. "You turn around 180 degrees, and you see Soldier Field and the skyline and it's a totally different experience."

A few vacant buildings from the old airport still stand on the land, including the Meigs Field Terminal Building, which was named by Preservation Chicago this year as one of the city's most endangered historic structures.

The island is also now home to the 7,500-seat Charter One Pavilion, a temporary structure that would be made permanent under some plans.

The park district is scheduled to lay out some designs for public feedback on Tuesday at the Spertus Institute (610 S. Michigan Ave.) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The plans as they stand "all have a nature focus," Grant Park Advisory Council President Bob O'Neill told the Chicago Journal.

A casino has pretty much been ruled out.

Outside of that, there's 91 acres to play with. The city likely doesn't actually care what you think, but this is your chance to tell 'em anyway.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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