Tag archive for "Chicago Children’s Museum Move"

Children's Museum

Museum move in trouble

No Comments 15 July 2009

Interior Rendering of new Chicago Children’s Museum

By Micah Maidenberg
Editor, Chicago Journal
Published July 13, 2009
Link to Story

“It’s a big story.
Veteran Crain’s Business columnist Greg Hinz is reporting the Chicago Children’s Museum’s planned move to Grant Park is in trouble. The museum says it is moving forward.
Here’s the nut of Hinz’s story:

A moribund economy now may have a better chance of blocking the project than lawsuits by parks activists and neighborhood opponents. Fundraising has foundered while projected costs have climbed by tens of millions to $150 million or more, Crain’s has learned. Sources close to the project say odds now are 50-50 at best that the Grant Park plan will proceed.

Hinz pulled the group’s last income tax report from the attorney general’s office and found the museum had “$28.1 million in “pledges receivable” as of June 30, 2008—just $1 million more than it did a year earlier.”
And broader trends in construction projects are not helping either: Hinz reports that the project is now said to cost anywhere from $115 million to $175 million, up from $85 million.
The museum released this statement about the story to Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin, as reported on Kamin’s blog:

Chicago Children’s Museum is moving forward with the plan to relocate to Daley Bicentennial Plaza in Grant Park. There is no news to report in that regard. Greg Hinz’s piece in Crain’s Chicago Business relies only on unnamed sources, and should be viewed with extreme skepticism.

Which brought this response by Hinz on his blog:

The statement says the project is “moving forward” — the same thing the museum told me without indicating where it will get the money.
The statement doesn’t deny that the price is up tens of millions of dollars a year, or that it’s talking with McPier about extending its lease at Navy Pier, key points of the above.
And while the statement correctly notes that I talked to unnamed sources, it neglects to note that one of those “unnamed sources” was its own income tax return, which shows that, even a year ago, fundraising for the museum was minimal.
The museum can clear up all of this if it begins answering a few questions. Like how much building the Grant Park facility now is projected to
cost. Or what it wants from McPier. And how much funding it has committed in the past couple of years.

Here’s the statement the children’s museum sent me:

Chicago Children’s Museum is moving forward with our plan to relocate to Daley Bicentennial Plaza in Grant Park. We are confident that we have made substantial progress, and that our donors, supporters and the community remain engaged, enthusiastic and wholly committed to Chicago Children’s Museum. We have never felt better about the quality of our educational programs, exhibits and community partnerships. Along with our partners, we are creating a world-class museum in the center of the city that’s accessible to all of Chicago’s children and families. Any reports that the project is in peril are erroneous.

Asked about the change between statements, Natalie Kreiger, spokeswoman for the museum, wrote an e-mail that “The statement I sent you more adequately addresses the project and museum as a whole.””

Children's Museum

Children’s Museum negotiating extension on Navy Pier lease

No Comments 14 July 2009

NAVY PIER | Slow fund-raising stalls move to Grant Park

From the Chicago Sun-Times

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

July 13, 2009

Link to Article

The Children’s Museum is negotiating an “open-ended” extension to its Navy Pier lease amid a fund-raising slowdown that threatens to stall its controversial move to Grant Park.

Ted Tetzlaff, chairman of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, said the museum’s troubles prompted McPier to open talks on an extension of a lease due to expire in 2010.

“It’s taken them longer than they figured to get their plans straightened out and financed. So, our people are working with them to extend their lease until they’re ready to move. It’s sort of open-ended,” Tetzlaff said Monday.

“We’ve made it clear to them they’re welcome for as long as they want to stay. … We realize they’ve made a decision to do something else. We’re just trying to accommodate them until they’re ready to go.”

Children’s Museum CEO Jennifer Farrington issued a prepared statement categorically denying a report by Crain’s Chicago Business that rising costs and a fund-raising slowdown had placed the move to Grant Park in jeopardy.

“Chicago Children’s Museum is moving forward with our plan to relocate to Daley Bicentennial Plaza in Grant Park. We are confident that we have made substantial progress, and that our donors, supporters and the community remain engaged, enthusiastic and wholly committed” to the move, she said.

Children’s Museum spokesman Eric Sedler characterized the Navy Pier lease negotiations as routine and part of a “regular review that happens between the museum and McPier” every year at this time.

“It would be a mistake for anybody to assume automatically that there is going to be an extension,” Sedler said.

He added, “There are absolutely no specific discussions in place having to do with any specific time-frame” for an extension.

In June, 2008, the City Council voted 33 to 16 to approve Mayor Daley’s controversial plan to build a new, $100 million Children’s Museum in Grant Park over the strenuous objections of downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd).

It was the first time in four years that the City Council had violated aldermanic prerogative — the treasured tradition of deferring to the wishes of the local alderman on zoning and development issues.

The vote set the stage for a marathon 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 Montgomery Ward sought.

Earlier this year, a Circuit Court judge sided with the Children’s Museum in a lawsuit filed on procedural issues. But, opponents are waiting until ground is broken in Grant Park before filing a lawsuit based on the Montgomery Ward decisions. The threat of such a lawsuit, coupled with the prolonged recession, has made fund-raising difficult.


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