CHICAGO (CBS) — A long-vacant site on the South Lakefront will be the site of a concert by the Dave Matthews Band this summer, and eventually, a brand new city neighborhood.
The concert will be held at a new venue called Lakeside, located along the lakefront near 85th Street. It is one the former site of the U.S. Steel South Works Plant, which stretched from 79th and 87th Streets.
Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) said the concert would provide the perfect opportunity to showcase one what she called “the best kept secret in the City of Chicago.”
“It is absolutely spectacular,” she said. “I, for one am very excited and proud that the 7th Ward and the 10th Ward will be hosting the Dave Matthews Band. I can’t tell you how exciting this is – not just for the South Side, not just for the 7th Ward, and, of course, the 10th Ward – but for what this means for the region in terms of opportunities – economic opportunities,” Jackson said.
Added Ald. John Pope (10th): “I remember thousands of people who didn’t come here for concerts, but came here to make a living. I remember fishing in the slip here, while the mill was still operating. Great memories – and we’re about to create more memories at this spectacular site that Sandi just described.”
The Dave Matthews Band concert will be the first ever event at the new site, which will eventually be the site of a major new development that will turn the site into a new entertainment and retail district.
“If you’ve got a boat, bring your boat down from Shedd Aquarium, or down from Navy Pier, down to what I expect will be the next tourist destination in the City of Chicago,” Jackson said.
Earlier plans indicated he broader project, called the Chicago Lakeside Development, would include high-rise apartment buildings, town homes, stores, offices, and medical facilities, according to past published reports. Earlier reports also indicated that the plan calls for about 100 acres to be donated to the city as open space.
Jackson said she hopes President Barack Obama’s presidential library might even someday locate on the site, “now that we’ve got a new friend in the mayor’s seat.”
The U.S. Steel South Works Plant employed 20,000 people at its peak, but closed in 1992. U.S. Steel had all the buildings on the site demolished, but left behind the slag from steel production, and entered a venture with McCaffery Interests Inc. to develop the site. It is the closest thing to “greenfield” property that you’ll find in the city limits.
The slag, while not toxic, gave it the character of a moonscape. Part of the property has gotten topsoil in recent years from sludge dredged from Lake Peoria and brought up by barge. It’s now sprouting vegetation.
The property adjoins the South Shore neighborhood on the north and the South Chicago neighborhood on the south. Both neighborhoods have struggled with crime and economic despair in recent years.
But the property is also close to four Metra stations, is just 10 miles from downtown, and South Shore Drive will be rerouted into its midst. Attractions and institutions such as the South Shore Cultural Center, the Museum of Science and Industry and the University of Chicago campus are also only minutes away.
“We believe that when the concertgoers are, they will see it, and they will accept it, and will revel in the beauty as those who are native to this area do,” Jackson said.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.