CHICAGO (WLS) --Traffic was tied up along Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square on Thursday for an "L" car off the tracks Thursday - but this was no accident. Developers were moving it up onto the terrace of an apartment building under construction as the showpiece amenity for a project that aims to revitalize a neighborhood.
After several delays, four nylon straps lifted the 2,300-pound recently retired train car, partially finished now as a lounge over N. Talman Avenue. It swung dangerously close to the building but despite wind and snow, it got to its stop.
Chicago Local One riggers oversaw the ballet of cranes, guy-wires and drones that made the move possible. The developer got the car from the CTA for a price they would not disclose, except to say the CTA had no liability if this operation went wrong. The train car will serve as the centerpiece of a garden for future residents of this 136-unit rental complex whose website is whatthel.co.
"You are going to have people who live in the building who are going to be able to use this but also residents of Logan Square, non-profits and groups like that are going to be invited in to use this space as well," said Aaron Galvin, a real estate agent.
This is going to be a happening, a very, very cool deck for everyone to use,"
Galvin says his passion is finding people apartments, and this project alongside the CTA Blue Line fits with the city's focus on transit-oriented-development.
"We want to ingratiate with the neighborhood, and create that sense of community again," Galvin said.
Some longtime residents, however, don't buy the hype. They worry about congestion, and economic displacement with one-bedrooms starting at nearly $2,000 per month.
"We have always been gentrified. People who go down that road, I don't think it is totally fair. But this one is a big kick, it is a bit hard to see this one," said Ethan Stuart, a neighbor.
Still, in a city that venerates design and tradition, it's interesting to witness reinvention - even if a train on an elevated platform is in itself, nothing new.
The developers hope their "garden amenity" becomes a landmark itself. They say this is the biggest rental project in Chicago since the recession of 2008-09 and it success says a lot about the strength of the city's real estate market. Renters are expected to be moving in by early summer.
For more information, visit: whatthel.co.