About Advertise Archive Contact Search Subscribe
Serving the Loop and Near North neighborhoods of downtown Chicago
Facebook X Vimeo RSS

(Above) Rendering of a marina that was planned, as recently as 2019, for the north side of Navy Pier. (Click on image to view larger version.)

It was the final permit needed to start building the marina on the north side of Navy Pier. CDOT denied the permit, saying the marina would be too close to a water filtration plant serving Chicago and many surrounding suburbs.

24-Apr-23 – The not-for-profit corporation that operates Navy Pier has joined forces with the company suing the City of Chicago for denying them a permit to build an all-transient marina on the north side of the popular tourist attraction.

Navy Pier Inc., which runs Navy Pier on behalf of Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, is now a joint plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in 2021 by NPM Venture LLC, the privately-funded entity hired by Navy Pier to operate the marina. A Circuit Court judge granted the motion on March 21.

The public marina, intended as a Navy Pier amenity, would accommodate, along 7,000 feet of mooring, as many as 150 boats, up to 130 feet in length, that would pay by the hour, day, or week. According to NPM Venture, the marina would generate for the city $11 million in taxes each year.

NPM Venture had approval from the Chicago City Council, almost all of the city, state, and federal permits it needed, and was planning to have the marina ready for the 2021 boating season. However, a “harbor permit,” needed to construct any structure within 40 feet of a Chicago harbor, was denied by the Chicago Department of Transportation.

CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi said she denied the permit because the marina posed “unacceptable security risks” due to its proximity to the Jardine Water Treatment Plant, though not detailing those risks, according to NPM Venture.

Wikimedia Commons

The plant (left), located just north of Navy Pier, supplies water to consumers in the northern, downtown, and western parts of Chicago and many surrounding suburbs.

Wikimedia Commons

Calling the denial “illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable, capricious, and without any rational basis,” NPM Venture is asking a Chancery Court judge to order Biagi to issue the permit so the marina can be built.

“The Chicago City Council unanimously decided in September 2016, after months of hearings and study, to allow a marina on the north side of Navy Pier,” said Michael Levinson (right), the attorney representing NPM Venture in the lawsuit. “The Chicago Department of Transportation has no legal authority to second-guess that decision.”

Michael Levinson

NPM Venture says the United States Army Corps of Engineers and United States Coast Guard have imposed only a limited security zone on the north side of the treatment plant, the side facing away from Navy Pier.

Still, NPM Venture said it would provide safeguards to keep boats away from the plant, such as clearly identifying with buoys and signage a restricted area along the south edge of the property, providing security cameras pointed toward Navy Pier, paying for fencing along the south edge, and employing an armed guard from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.

Randy Podolsky

“Navy Pier Marina will improve security around the Jardine Water Treatment Plant in numerous ways, including monitoring what boats come in and out of the north pier area, which is not being done now. That’s why CDOT’s actions make no sense,” said Randy Podolsky (left), manager of NPM Venture.

He says they have reached out to CDOT numerous times to discuss security concerns but have not received a response.

Citing the pending litigation, a spokesperson for the City of Chicago Law Department declined comment.

• Previous story: All-transient marina at Navy Pier will have $11 million annual impact, says developer