CDOT blocks permit for short-term marina at Navy Pier

Plans to build a new marina at Navy Pier have hit a snag. 

While those plans were approved unanimously by the city council years ago, the city is now saying "not so fast." 

The Chicago Department of Transportation has blocked the permit necessary to start construction. 

On Wednesday, developers of the marina announced they are suing both CDOT and the City of Chicago to be able to move forward.

The proposed Navy Pier Marina features a series of piers, 90 to 130 feet long, extending off the pier's northern edge.

"The transient marina is designed to let folks come in with their vessels for lunch, for dinner, for a few overnights," said Project Developer Randy Podolsky. "If you want to stay for a week or two, you'd be more than welcome."

The City Council unanimously approved it back in 2016, but CDOT denied the harbor permit which developers need to start construction, citing unspecified "security concerns." 

The proposed marina would sit close to the Jardine Water Purification Plant, which is the facility that provides water to millions.

"Honestly, I'm shocked," said Podolsky.  "Because CDOT doesn't have the authority to block a permit for construction only."


"We don't believe that the Department of Transportation has any authority or jurisdiction to second guess or overrule that decision, so we're asking the court for an order that would essentially require the permit to be issued," added Michael Levinson, attorney for Navy Pier Marina.

A spokesperson for the City didn't elaborate on why CDOT blocked the permit, releasing a one-sentence statement from the law department that said: 

"The City has not yet been served with a complaint and has no further comment as the matter is now in litigation."

"We want the city to do what was planned, what was expected, what was entitled in 2016, and issue a permit for construction so we can bring Chicago the marina--with private money--that we've been working on since 2015, approved in 2016," said Podolsky.

The plan not only has the backing of the City Council; it also has buy-in from the Chicago Park District. It's now up to a judge to decide whether CDOT overstepped its authority.

If you're a boater, Summer 2023 is likely the soonest you'll be able to dock at Navy Pier.