From the 606 trail linking entire neighborhoods to the country’s best burger joint opening a satellite branch, this was a banner year for new stuff in Chicago.
And in 2016, from Howard Street to Hegewisch, Chicagoans can expect an influx of new sights in their neighborhoods. Here’s a sample of what’s to come.
NEW LAKEFRONT PARK OFFERS SEPARATE PATHS FOR CYCLISTS, PEDESTRIANS
A construction project at Fullerton Avenue and North Lake Shore Drive that added 5.8 acres of parkland east of the current shoreline has also created separate lakefront paths for bicyclists and runners to ease congestion.
The Fullerton Revetment Project, which is already nearly complete, added parkland near a busy intersection of the Lakefront Trail, protecting the drive from waves and making a grassy area for passersby to relax. A new section of the Lakefront Trail north of Fullerton has been open since November, and second half of the path south of the street debuted in the second week of December. Landscaping is expected to be complete by summer 2016.
THE CUBS WILL FINALLY HAVE A NEW CLUBHOUSE
Wrigley Field renovations are well underway, and while they won’t all be ready next year,”baseball’s worst clubhouse” is expected to be revamped and ready for the Cubbies on Opening Day.
Ultimately, fans can expect a plaza above the clubhouse and a Cubs office building that will feature retail and restaurants.
“My goal for [the] plaza would be for it to really become a town square of Lakeview and not just an outdoor beer garden during games,” said Adam Rosa, president of Hawthorne Neighbors.
Oh, and the missing marquee? It’ll be back Opening Day.
BIG MARSH PARK BRINGING DIRT BIKE TRAILS TO SOUTHEAST SIDE
The first phase of Big Marsh Park, an ambitious 278-acre project, should be ready for cyclists in the spring.
The park at 110th Street and Stony Island Avenue in South Deering also will feature opportunities for fishing, canoeing, hiking, nature-walking and bird-watching, eventually.
The park’s main trail, which will be a half mile, will be multiuse asphalt. There also will be a crushed gravel multiuse, 1.9-mile path encircling the main bike park area that also will connect with other areas of the park.
The park also will include multiple dirt trails, plus BMX-style obstacles like dirt berms, dirt landings, a curved wall ride, a ladder drop and kicker ramps.
BELOVED BUS LINES COMING BACK
Between Loop Link, new express bus lines and hundreds of miles of added bike lanes, 2015 was a big year for transportation in Chicago. City planners are hoping to keep up the progress with the No. 11 bus line, which in the spring will once again run between Lincoln Square and Lincoln Park after ending service in 2012. Aldermen and transit advocates are also taking credit for the upcoming return of the No. 31 bus line, which will run along 31st Street on the Near South Side.
ENGLEWOOD GETTING ITS FIRST WHOLE FOODS
City leaders have been bragging about it for years, but 2016 will finally be the year the ballyhooed Englewood Whole Foods opens its doors on 63rd Street. Set to include a Starbucks and a Chipotle, the grocer is already deep into its hiring process, hoping the 100-or-so jobs it brings helps breathe some life into a struggling neighborhood.
But the Englewood Whole Foods, while perhaps the highest-profile, is far from the only gourmet market opening on the city’s South Side. Another Whole Foods branch is set to open in Hyde Park, where it’ll be part of a sleek Jeanne Gang-designed development that will also include 180 apartments. Officials are also expected to cut the ribbon on a new Mariano’s at the site of a former steel mill in South Chicago.
LOGAN SQUARE DEVELOPMENTS WELCOME NEW RESIDENTS
Of all Chicago’s neighborhoods, perhaps none is undergoing a more rapid and far-reaching transformation than Logan Square. Between 20 different housing developments, more than 1,100 new residential units are planned for the neighborhood. While some projects, like the Twin Towers and massive Megamall redevelopment, aren’t likely to be ready for renters until 2017 or later, the “L” building at 2011 N. Milwaukee Ave. is under construction and set to be completed in a matter of months.
‘HAMILTON’ HITS CHICAGO STAGE
After blowing away critics and packing theaters on Broadway in 2015, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hopera about our nation’s most misunderstood founding father is set to premiere at PrivateBank Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St., in September 2016. If New York is any indication, tickets might be sold out by spring.
COPA AMERICA COMES TO SOLIDER FIELD
For at least a little while in 2016, Chicagoans won’t have to go all the way to suburban Bridgeview to get a live view of the world’s most popular sport. Soldier Field officials hinted in September that the NFL stadium would host matches for next year’s Copa America. By December, it was confirmed: four matches, including the tournament semifinal, will be played at the stadium.
WICKER PARK OFFICE TOWER GETS HOTEL MAKEOVER
The vintage 12-story tower overlooking the main intersection of Wicker Park, at 1600 N. Milwaukee Ave., will be home to a new boutique hotel. The hotel, whose name has not yet been released, is projected to have 89 rooms, a rooftop swimming pool and a public bar.
WEST RIDGE NATURE PRESERVE WILL SEE ITS FIRST SPRING
The 20-acre park officially opened in September, but 2016 will be the first year that the budding star of West Ridge brings visitors to enjoy warm weather on its lush fields and winding paths. When spring comes, officials said, the park’s sprawling lagoon will be stocked with bluegill and catfish.
THE WEST LOOP GETS EVEN MORE DELICIOUS
Already a contender for culinary capital of Chicago with heavyweights like Au Cheval, Avec and Girl and the Goat, the West Loop has plenty more in store for 2016. Celebrity chef Rick Bayless announced this year that he’ll be opening a brewpub called Cruz Blanca on the Randolph Street restaurant row. Another award-winning chef, Girl and the Goat owner Stephanie Izzard, looks nearly ready to open her newest restaurant, Duck Duck Goat, at 857 W. Fulton Market. Originally slated for November, it’s now unclear when Duck Duck Goat’s Chinese-inspired cuisine will be ready for the public.
NEW DOWNTOWN HOTELS WILL OPEN FOR HUMANS …
While the city isn’t on pace to match its 2015 construction of 2,407 new hotel rooms, three huge sites for tourists to lay their heads are in the works downtown. They include the LondonHouse, a landmark tower on the Magnificent Mile that’s going to be converted into a 452-room luxury hotel.Also,a new branch of Kimpton Hotels is set to replace a long-running shoe shop at the 14-story New York Life building, 39 S. LaSalle St. All in all, 809 more rooms are expected be available by New Years Day 2017, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.
… AND FOR CATS
After more than five years of planning and construction, the Tree House Humane Society will be opening its $7 million cat shelter in West Rogers Park in 2016. Located at 7225 N. Western Ave., the complex will include a full-service veterinary clinic and a “cat-fe” where people can drink coffee and pass time with their pets. Also folded into the plan are a pet supply store, adoption rooms and an education center.
THE FIRST-EVER ‘BOTANIC BREWPUB’ COMES TO WEST TOWN
Local microbrewer Forbidden Root is hoping to open what it calls the country’s first “botanic brewery” in the East Village neighborhood in West Town. If the brewer clears some legal hurdles restricting alcohol sales in the area, its new location will sell its wares amid herbs, dried fig leaves, almond skins and spices. Located at 1746 W. Chicago Ave., the site will also include a tap room and “education space” to show visitors where taste meets nature.