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Children’s Museum Won’t Be Coming To Grant Park

Children's Museum Plan

The 2008 plan for the Chicago Children’s Museum at Grant Park. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 10/27/11 11:23 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Three years after it generated shouting matches and power struggles in City Hall, the plan to move the Chicago Children’s Museum to Grant Park has been declared dead by one official.

New plans for a renovation of Daley Bicentennial Plaza in the northeast corner of Grant Park were unveiled Wednesday, and the Children’s Museum was nowhere to be found on the designs, the Chicago Tribune reported.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Hultman reports

While museum spokeswoman Natalie Kreiger says Grant Park remains a “viable option” for the museum, she told the Tribune most of the efforts are focused on the current facility at Navy Pier.

But Grant Park Advisory Council and Conservancy president Bob O’Neill called the plan for the Children’s Museum in the park “dead,” the newspaper reported.

The move could reportedly save the city $70 million. O’Neill told the Tribune without the Children’s Museum, estimates for upgrades at Daley Bicentennial Plaza will only top out at $30 million.

For the renovations, the 20-acre plaza will be closed for two years starting in fall 2012. The Chicago Sun-Times reports Park District Planning Director Gia Biagi said the new space will include walking paths, rolling hills and a “meandering” ice skating “ribbon” rather than a traditional elliptical rink.

As it is, the waterproofing around the underground parking garage beneath the plaza is falling apart, and renovations are mandated, the Tribune reported.

In 2008, the City Council approved the controversial $100 million plan to move the Children’s Museum to Daley Bicentennial Plaza. The Council voted 33-16 to approve the plan, over the objections of Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd).

Mayor Richard M. Daley was a strong backer of the move.

The vote came after five redesigns for the museum, the last of which called for it to be built mostly underground.

Nonetheless, the vote set the stage for the ongoing court fight over 172 years of legal protections — affirmed by four Illinois Supreme Court rulings — that have kept Grant Park “forever open, clear and free,” as civic leader Montgomery Ward sought.

The Chicago Children’s Museum, originally known as the ExpressWays Children’s Museum, began with two rooms in the Chicago Cultural Center in 1982. It was later housed in Lincoln Park, then in the North Pier Terminal mall on East Illinois Street, before opening with the redeveloped Navy Pier.