Ronstan

Could Chicago get America’s Cup and Floating Island?

Published on June 17th, 2014

While Chicago and Lake Michigan gets close inspection as a possible host City for the 2017 America’s Cup, becoming the first lake to ever host the event, there is another initiative for Chicago that is also without precedent.

The Chicago Tribune reports that about a mile off the City’s shore, a local businessman wants to create a floating city complete with sundecks, restaurants, a swimming pool and plenty of room for boats to dock.

This Lake Michigan oasis – Breakwater Chicago – is an idea of Beau D’Arcy, a mechanical engineer who said he’s spent the past two years planning the attraction.

A Plainfield native and Harvard Business School graduate, he expects the total price tag for the floating attraction will likely be around $23 million. D’Arcy, 33, speaks about his project in grand terms and has an ambitious timeline for its opening. If all goes well, he wants to welcome the first guests by July 4, 2015.

In addition to lots of cash, D’Arcy’s ambition will need the blessing of more than a few regulators. The facility, which he said be anchored about a mile from the shore during the summer and towed to the beach in the winter, will need permits from the Coast Guard, state and city.

D’Arcy said he’s met with officials at all levels of government to learn about the permitting process and hasn’t yet run into opposition. But even he notes that the lack of resistance is very different than an outright endorsement. A spokeswoman in the mayor’s office declined to comment on the project.

Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, said any private development in the water is a bad idea. “Lake Michigan is a national treasure. It supplies drinking water supply to all Chicagoans and recreation to tens of millions of people. We shouldn’t be messing with the lake.”

Breakwater, D’Arcy said, would provide a welcome respite to Chicago boaters who have few options for entertainment on the water. Water taxis would deliver the yacht-less to the attraction, which is slated to be about a football field in length and 100 feet across.

Though hardly common, D’Arcy said, floating attractions aren’t unprecedented. He said a similar facility operates off the coast of Istanbul, Turkey.

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