Related Midwest has big plans for Chicago’s strangest non-place, in the shadow of downtown.
Published May 15, 2018, at 11:27 a.m.
Text by Whet Moser
One of the strangest things about Chicago is that, in the midst of a building boom which has drawn affluent residents and big businesses back to the city center, 62 acres have remained a blank spot on the map. Just south of River City and the Roosevelt Collection, the past and present of big mixed-use developments in the city, is a big bunch of nothing.
“Rezkoville” is probably the most familiar name for it, after the political fixer who owned it for a few years before going to prison in Blagojevich’s wake. He owned it for less time than General Mediterranean Holding, which bought it ten years ago and took a secondary role last year with Related Midwest as primary developer. But Rezkoville has a ring to it, and so it is and will be until they can transform it into “the 78"—a reference to Chicago’s 77 community areas, plus one—in 2019, as the Trib’s Ryan Ori reports. They’ve released renderings of their plans for the site, a rare opportunity to define a massive swath of Chicago’s core all at once.
What will be lost? Nothing, or at least nothing categorizable. As one would expect, there’s a homeless population, as Kari Lydersen and Lloyd DeGrane documented for the Reader a couple years ago, but it’s small and transient, about 50 people at a time. It’s not a wilderness; it’s been periodically cleared, in a perpetual state of transition, and is now totally barren. It’s not urban ruins; there wasn’t much there to begin with, just a train yard serving Grand Central Station, and all that’s left is mostly flat expanses of concrete.
Which was its own sort of uniqueness: a place of stasis that didn’t really belong to business, or the city, or its transient population, or to nature. Before it got cleared one last time, I took some pictures, which mixed in with Related Midwest’s ambitious renderings of its future.