At last! City signed contract to build Damen Line Green with Paschen
This article includes earlier reports from Streetsblog Chicago freelance writer David Zegeye.
The new Damen Avenue filling station on the Green Line will be a wonderful resource for the Near West Side – if ever built.
In 2017, former mayor Rahm Emanuel and 27th arrondissement alderman Walter Burnett Jr. announced plans for the new shutdown. In addition to building the station, the Chicago Department of Transportation is rebuilding a half-mile stretch of Lake Street from Ashland to Damen, a $ 12.9 million project. Total spending, which is expected to be $ 72.9 million, is funded by the Kinzie Industrial Corridor Tax Increase Finance (TIF) District, plus state funding.
The station is designed by Perkins + Will, with artwork by Folayemi (Fo) Wilson, and was slated to open in 2020. But four years and two first shovelfuls after the 2017 announcement, there was still no sign of construction last March. According to the city’s supply services department, which manages contracts for the project, the station had only opened tenders at the end of February.
In March of this year, when Streetsblog asked CDOT about the multi-year delay, spokesperson Mike Claffey assured us: stay on track, we plan to publish the Notice to Proceed in the next 60-90 days, which would allow us to start the station project this summer. It will take 24 months to complete the project.
This summer has passed and there was still no visible progress on the project, so it is clear that the tendering process did not stay on track.
@streetsblogchi The construction contract for the Damen Green Line finally awarded yesterday (in Paschen)… a first shovelful of earth before winter ???
– j (@_jesse_dean) September 29, 2021
The good news is that Streetsblog’s eagle-eyed reader Jesse Dean saw a notice on the town’s procurement page indicating that the contract to build the station was finally awarded on Wednesday, September 28. Chicago-based FH Paschen won the contract with a bid of $ 67,316,000. This indicates that the total cost of the project has increased from the initial budget of $ 72.9 million to $ 80,216,000, or $ 7,316,000 more than expected. We do not know where the additional funding is coming from.
Reached this afternoon, Claffey offered a few more details, promising the city will make a formal announcement on the status of the project, including the finalized construction schedule. But judging from his statement last March, the station probably won’t be finished until at least the end of 2023. But, hey, better late than never.
The original Damen station opened in 1893 as part of the Lake Street Elevated Railroad, which would eventually become the Lake Street branch of the Green Line. The dense Near West Side provided a stable ridership base along the line, as evidenced by the fact that for many years the stations were only a few blocks apart from each other.
The new Damen stop will feature spectacular architecture, including a glass walkway that will offer breathtaking views of the skyline. More importantly, the new station will bridge the 1.5 mile distance between Ashland and California Green Line stations, which will surely boost development in the region.
The installation will be largely transparent, with a grand staircase and escalator visible from the glass facade. The skybridge, whose design references Chicago’s many steel bridges, will provide access between the platforms for incoming and outgoing trains.
The station will improve transit access to businesses and industries along the Kinzie Industrial Corridor and neighboring residences, including the Westhaven Park complex of the Chicago Housing Authority. Another phase of Westhaven – which will have 96 mixed-income apartments – has been approved this year for construction across Damen. It will also offer a new way to get to the United Center – the stop will be about a seven-minute walk from the north entrance.
Learn more about the Damen Green Line station project here.