TIF funds to improve, expand Ping Tom Park
Peter Strazzabosco 312.744.9267
Chinatown's Ping Tom Park will be improved with a boardwalk, canoe launch, landscaped terraces and other features through $12 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) assistance under a Department of Zoning and Land Use Planning proposal approved by City Council today.
The improvements will occur on nearly six acres of vacant Chicago Park District land at 18th Street and the Chicago River. Once completed, the added amenities will increase the park's usable acreage by more than a third and make it a destination for open space enthusiasts throughout the city, versus the primarily neighborhood residents who currently use it, said Mayor Richard M. Daley.
"The improvements will also enable unprecedented public access to approximately two blocks of riverfront while also complimenting the Asian-inspired features that Ping Tom Park is known for," Mayor Daley said.
The site's location north of 18th was acquired by the Park District in 2002 for future expansion of the park, which is largely located south of 18th. Rather than the steep, inaccessible banks that are typical along the river's south branch, the expansion site's generous width would enable a gently-sloped river bank with aquatic and wetland plants, walkways, foot bridges, and other people-friendly components, said Patti Scudiero, commissioner of the Department of Zoning and Land Use Planning.
More than half of the proposed TIF assistance will be allocated for shoreline improvements and landscaping. Most of the remainder will fund new walkways, utilities and related site preparation needs. Access to the expansion site will be primarily provided through an already completed connection under 18th Street near Ping Tom Park's main entry, Scudiero said.
Work on the improvements could start this spring.