This project has been talked about since the mid-1990's, but longtime Mayor Richard M. Daley decided to get busy on it Wednesday. The mayor says the city needs the jobs the lakeside development would create. And it won't hurt to get an influential political family in his corner as an election-year bonus.
Once ground is broken in 2013, the 87 acre, $400 million development would be the largest under way in Chicago.
On lakefront land between 79th and 85th streets, phase one would include shopping and entertainment, and as many as 13,000 town homes and apartments.
Mayor Daley proposed $96 million in bonds for roads and sewers, despite the sour economy.
"You still have to have some foresight, you have to have some vision. You can't just lock everything down and not plan anything," Mayor Daley said.
Alderman Sandi Jackson -- in whose 7th Ward the lakeside development would be located -- was thrilled at the announcement only seven months before the 2011 city elections.
"I'm excited about it. Who wouldn't want a development of this size and this scope?" said Jackson.
The Daley administration has been busy in South Side wards. It aided the development of a shopping center at 119th and Ashland in the 34th Ward and supported the still-unbuilt South Side Walmart stores approved for the Pullman and Chatham neighborhoods in the 9th and 21st wards.
Alderman Jackson is the wife of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who four years ago considered a campaign for mayor. She was asked if, in light of Daley's support for the development in her ward, she will back the mayor's re-election next February.
"I'm a supporter of Sandi Jackson. I'm a big supporter of the mayor and I expect to work hand in hand with him on this project. We've worked together on many things and we will continue to do so," Jackson said.
The mayor still has not announced if he will run in 2011.
Thirty-second Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack, the only councilmember to publicly consider a mayoral challenge, is not concerned about Daley's new alliance with South Side aldermen.
"The problems are going to stay here as long as they continue to do business the old-fashioned way," said Waguespack. "That's the way I look at it. We need to do away with the old way of doing business. It doesn't work anymore."
Waguespack said that in what he called "this new day and age" all the political money in Chicago is not controlled by Mayor Daley as if he's been able to raise some.
The mayor won't make his decision on whether to run for a seventh term until the fall.