November 9, 2014

Mayor Emanuel, Chicago Park District Cut Ribbon On Boat House At River Park, Announce Fourth New Boat House On South Side

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Emanuel attends River Park boat house ribbon cutting.

Eleanor Boat House Rendering

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Deb Mell, Alderman Patrick O'Connor, Chicago Park District General Superintendent Michael P. Kelly, the Chicago rowing community and members of North and South Side neighborhoods today celebrated the grand opening of the new boat house at River Park and the announcement that the fourth Chicago boat house will be built on the South Side of Chicago.

"This third boat house at River Park adds to the work we’re doing to make the Chicago River the next great recreational frontier in the City,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I’m also pleased to announce that we’re moving forward with plans to build the fourth boat house in the City, partnering with Governor Quinn so that residents from every corner of the City have access to recreational opportunities on the river.”

The River Park boat house includes an expanded and renovated existing storage facility building with the addition of a concrete storage pad with retaining walls for kayak rentals. The building expansion contains approximately 310 square feet of interior office space and storage. A canopy covered open area with concrete floor will also be built to provide a shelter for public use and kayak concession support space. The boat house’s water side improvements consisted of the demolition of existing boat launch and asphalt landing; installation of new geotextile fabric, riprap and bio restoration; landscape restoration; and the installation of a new concrete pad, sheet pile, stiff arms and anew accessible kayak boat launch. The Chicago Park District funded the $1.4 million project.

“We are thrilled to have a new boat house which will be well used for years to come,” said Alderman Mell. “We're thankful to the Chicago Park District and Mayor Emanuel for their continued investment in the City and the 33rd Ward.”

The fourth boat house at Park 571 in the Bridgeport neighborhood is planned to be a 19,003 square foot facility with a mechanically heated and cooled facility building and a boat storage building with a floating boat launch dock in the Chicago River. The facility building will have an ergometer workout space that will include 42 “erg” machines that simulate the action of rowing and measure work output. The building will also house a rowing office, four team storage bays, a heated boat storage repair bay, vending area and a clear span boat storage bay to consist of five unheated boat storage bays to store 66 rowing shells and support equipment. Site improvements will include walkways, new lighting, outdoor fitness equipment, installation of landscape plantings and eight parking spaces.

“For many years, the Chicago Park District has been synonymous with recreation on the lakefront,” said Superintendent Kelly. “Thanks to the Mayor's initiative we are able to grow opportunities for recreation along the river."

This South Side boat house will be an $5.7 million project funded by the state and the Chicago Park District. The boat house, which will be designed by Studio Gang Architects, is projected to be complete in the summer of 2016.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has set a goal of making the Chicago River the city’s next recreational frontier, with four new boathouses throughout the city serving as anchors of the river’s future development. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided nearly $1 million in grant funds to help clean up the river and spur job creation. The River Park Boathouse is the third of the four boathouses to be built. The Clark Park boat house, located in the North Center neighborhood, was completed in October 2013 and the Ping Tom boat house at the edge of the Chinatown and South Loop neighborhoods opened in June 2013.

The sites were chosen to line up with improvements the Chicago Department of Transportation is making to extend trails along the river, providing easier and more consistent river access for runners, bikers, and walkers. The boathouses will each contain a concession facility and will serve both as access points and attractions along the river.

To view a Chicago Rowing Foundation video, visit .


Photo Caption: Mayor Emanuel attends River Park boat house ribbon cutting.
Photo Credit: Brooke Collins//City of Chicago