CHICAGO —  A developer says the city of Chicago is blocking the construction of a new marina at Navy Pier five years after the city council signed off on it. 

The developer said he was dumbfounded by the denial. It’s why he is asking the court to order the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) to issue the permit to build the marina. 

“I wish we didn’t have to file a lawsuit to protect our rights that were granted in 2016,” said Navy Pier developer Randy Podolsky.

A rendering reveals the plan for a short-term docking facility for up to 150 boats. It’s been in the works for years for the north end of the pier, but now the company building the marina is suing the city, CDOT and the CDOT commissioner, citing quote: “Illegal, arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, and irrational denial of the Harbor Permit.”


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“We’re just baffled as to why a department like CDOT feels it doesn’t have to issue a permit the City Council already approved the project for and why there’s no communication to resolve it with us,” Podolsky said.

Podolsky says the privately funded project would bring more than $10 million to the city every year. After a lengthy process, he says everyone signed off on it, from the Chicago City Council, under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, to state and federal agencies.

However, CDOT’s commissioner denied the permit raising unacceptable security risks due to its proximity to the Jardine Water Treatment Plant. Podolsky says the marina’s plan takes steps to enhance security, while boats are able to transit on other sides of the plant without restrictions.   

“Hundreds if not thousands of boats, over the course of the summer or any particular weekend transit in the playpen unknown boaters all around the water plant,” Podolsky said, “Why is the designated Marina where we will know every boater who comes in there a security risk today?” 

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