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New Challenges Arise for Olympic Village and Venue Planning

By Anthonia Akitunde in News on May 16, 2009 6:00PM

Artist's conceptual image of the Olympic Village, south of the proposed Lake Michigan Sports Complex, which would house 90 percent of the athletes competing in the 2016 games.

The International Olympic Committee has come and gone, but the challenges surrounding Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid still loom large.

The Olympic Village, which would provide temporary housing for athletes before being swooped up by private developers after the Games, has been the subject of many concerns. Many Olympics opposition groups believe the Village would displace Chicago residents living around the proposed site, the abandoned Michael Reese Hospital campus.

On top of displacement worries, private developers and the IOC wonder how the close to $1 billion project will be funded. Crain’s Chicago Business reports that Chicago will buy the site for $86 million but will depend on private developers to “construct and finance the housing project.” Cassandra Francis, who is charge of the project, said that while banks are more cautious with loaning money, the bid committee believed it could get “traditional funding.” Francis also said the committee would look into federal funding for parts of the project involving affordable, student and senior housing.

Crain’s reports that although contractors are excited by the prospect of new business if Chicago won the bid in October, financing assistance would be necessary.

And over in Lincoln Park, residents are locked in a reportedly heated battle over the proposed building of a $31 million tennis complex in Waveland Park. According to Chicago 2016 website, the Lincoln Park Tennis Center, as it would be called, would feature three competition arenas with a center court that seats 10,000 spectators.

The Lincoln Park Advisory Council stalled a resolution outright opposing the proposed location as some residents favored a less stringent resolution favoring an alternate location. Others wonder what ecological effects the proposed tennis complex would have on a nearby bird sanctuary.

[Crain's, Chicago 2016, Tribune, NBC Chicago]