Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lamentable or not -- we lost. What next?

Losing the 2016 Olympics seems like a big bust for some people, including in the CRE industry. Yes, we lost a lot of potential public and quasi-public projects because the IOC decided to send the 2016 Olympics to Rio. By the way, does anyone seriously believe the 80,000 seat Olympic Stadium could have been built for $397.6 million? We all know on-budget Soldier Toile....err....Field and Millennium Park were.

But this post is not about second guessing. Instead, where do we go from here? Infrastructure improvements, to me, seem to be the most important thing to concentrate on. Let's assume we find the money. Public transit needs to be improved. Chicago once had a public transportation system that was the envy of all. Today? Not so much. We keep talking about high-speed rail. If we are going to do that to make it really work then rail lines within the city need to be upgraded to accommodate decent speeds. Maybe commuter train speeds could be improved, too. Try taking the old IC line north of 115th Street...zzzz.....

Then there is the old Michael Reese Hospital. Man, can a creative developer, perhaps in a public-private partnership, do something with that campus! How about a mixed-use development that compliments or expands even more on McCormick Place? I see tremendous potential there. Saving some of the Gropius buildings would be a big plus.

These are just two examples. I am sure others smarter than I can think of other examples.

We lost. Big deal. I really think Chicago, with some visionary planning, can take that loss and turn it into a win for everyone.


humarashid said...

Completely agree. I wasn't all that bummed when Chicago lost out on the bid. Getting everything together for the Olympics would have been incredibly costly, and there are better things to spend the money on. Like you said, we need to improve our public transit system. (I take the Metra every single day - it needs a LOT of work!)We need better clinics, more low-income housing projects. We don't necessarily need a new stadium that will cost several hundred millions of dollars, and we don't need people the whole world over coming and clogging up our already crowded city. My opinions are pretty much in line with the opinions of a lot of New Yorkers when it was a possibility that the Olympics would be held there.

Priorities, people. Priorities.