Chicago 'Riverline' development breaks ground Monday

A major new development along the Chicago River is being touted as blending the best elements of nature and urban life.

FOX 32 NEWS - A major new development along the Chicago River is being touted as blending the best elements of nature and urban life.

Tourists cruising on the south branch of the Chicago River Monday passed an east bank covered with trees and brush. In a few years, though, it will look drastically different with eight new high rises, manicured walkways and landscaped wetlands.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel attended the groundbreaking for the "Riverline" project Monday. It will include 3,600 new residences, in a mix of rental, condo and townhomes. Developers say they needed seven separate real estate deals over the last four years to acquire the 14 riverfront acres, and there were other obstacles too.

“It is a difficult site in the fact that there's a lot going on. Through old historic tunnels and railroad tracks that used to be the Chicago River south of the city, but these are all things that we worked through when we laid the buildings out and laid the sites out,” said CMK Companies President Colin Kihnke.

The mayor says Riverline represents another example of converting a river that was primarily used for industrial purposes to recreational use.

“The riverfront will be a public space. They’ll be responsible for maintaining it, but it will be open and accessible to everybody in the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said.

The developers say Riverline “combines world class architecture with a connection to the environment and surrounding community."

Residents who live or work nearby seemed enthusiastic about the project.

“They were talking about doing some extreme sports there. Divergent was filmed there, the first film  did filming there, but it's been pretty much a barren sort of eyesore,” said Osei Andrews-Hutchinson.

“Right now I like living here because it's so quiet, but I feel that with the new high-rises, it would make like this area more populated, compared with other parts of the Loop,” Alex Payne said.

The project is expected to be completed in eight to ten years.

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