(photo courtesy Brendan Reilly, Phil Levin, GNMAA)Reilly takes credit for negotiating "the final terms of a $750,000 public-private agreement for the reconstruction project and on-going maintenance of the plaza," which is on Michigan Avenue, above Hubbard Street. Co-signatories to the agreement are the Chicago Department of Transportation and National Association of Realtors, whose headquarters building forms the plaza's northern border.
The alderman says the project, which is to include structural repairs, resurfacing, improved lighting, new landscaping, and restoration of the plaza's fountain, "will be completed at no cost to Chicago taxpayers. Because we have confirmed NAR is legally responsible for the condition of the Plaza, the Alderman focused his efforts on holding NAR to their obligations and working to foster a partnership with them moving forward. Alderman Reilly is grateful to NAR for taking ownership of this project and committing $750,000 to cover all of the above-mentioned work. "
A long-closed walkway that reaches from the western end of the plaza and extends all the way to Wabash appears to have completed, awaiting only the the bureaucrats swarming to take the credit at its re-opening.
Now let's hope Alderman Reilly can now work his magic on the even more decrepit plaza next door, between the Wrigley Building and Wrigley Annex.
I would argue that its repair is even more essential. The Plaza of the Americas leads to the spiky narrow walkway pictured above. The Wrigley Plaza, in contrast, is the Mag Mile gateway at the end of what is now one of Chicago's grandest promenades, stretching all the way back to Marina City and Mies's IBM Building. It's where pedestrians reach the perimeter of the magnificent new Trump River Walk, only to be dumped into a dark slum of a covered-over fountain and deadly gray concrete that lies between the elegant terra cotta of the two Wrigleys stinking like a dead mackerel.Earlier this month, the Trib's Blair Kamin had an excellent piece contrasting the Trump and the Wrigley, and revealed that - surprise, surprise - the plaza is actually owned by the city, which is responsible for, and has clearly all but abandoned, its maintenance. Two days later Kamin reported CDOT has "begun discussions" with Wrigley about improvements. Kamin quoted CDOT spokesman Brian Steele as adding "no firm plan, timetable or funding sources are set."
How encouraging. It sounds like the kind of statement bureaucrats make to bid time until everyone forgets about the problem, making it go away. William Wrigley is no longer a Chicago company. Two years ago, global candy and gum powerhouse Mars bought it for $23 billion. Wrigley was traditionally a major philanthropic presence in its home city. Mars has been invisible. If it has any interest in not being typecast as a neglectful absentee landlord, this would be a good time to step up to the plate.