Now that the city has approved $98 million in financing for the first phase of rebuilding the U.S. Steel South Works site, the project's managers are revealing the breadth of their ambitious plans.
The big idea, according to the architects leading the first phase of the design, is to create a "city within a city" on the 500-acre+ site.
"This was the industrial city of Chicago for the longest time," said Joe Antunovich, principal of Antunovich and Associates. "But now we're able to bring it back as a true mixed-use, residential, retail, entertainment destination spot."
The first phase should be completed within five years, and will include park land.
The South Works site has been vacant since 1992, when Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel closed its plants and removed the remaining refining mills, blast furnaces and other industrial detritus.
The site is currently nothing more than grass and pavement.
To re-incrporate the site into the city, the architects plan to extend the street grid through the site. The builders also plan to rebuild and reroute South Shore Drive, incorporating bike paths and retail stores on both sides. In other words, less expressway and more city boulevard.
"To see something that spectacular and that large-scale happening there after all these years," said Lee Bay, a local Architecture Critic and member of the Chicago Central Area Committee, "clearly, it is an exciting thing."