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Photographer captures, tracks progress of big projects under construction around Chicago

Photographer captures construction of city projects
Photographer captures construction of big Chicago projects 02:27

CHICAGO (CBS) -- "It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago." Mark Twain said that more than 130 years ago.

With a new era on the horizon of a casino in Chicago, Morning Insider Lauren Victory got curious about the status of other big projects in our City.

About once a week, you'll find Dan Schell plodding around the city, plotting the next update for his construction photography website, Building Up Chicago.

"If your eyes are down, you don't notice anything but if you look up and around, you start to notice different buildings," said the hobbyist photographer.

He tracks progress on several projects and there's no shortage of material in Chicago from constant construction of apartments in the West Loop to busy backhoes in Jackson Park where the Obama Presidential Center is slowly unearthing.

A representative for Lakeside Alliance tells CBS 2 that the next thing on the to-do list is to erect a third tower crane on-site to allow for more concrete work to be completed.  

Work on the roads by Lincoln Yards in Lincoln Park continues. The mega development's first building should be ready for tenants by the end of the year with a focus on the life sciences sector.

"It will finally bring more class A laboratory space to Chicago," said Dr; Suzet McKinney, life sciences director and principal from Lincoln Yards developer Sterling Bay.

Up next for Lincoln Yards: restaurants, retail and green space. Phase Two groundbreaking is projected for late this summer with eateries, etc. opening up around Spring 2024.

Phase Three will include more life sciences commercial space.

Many people are interested in the promised extension of the 606 Trail. McKinney said a lot of stakeholders are involved because the proposed path would travel through land owned by the State and City. It needs to go underneath the Kennedy Expressway and the railroad.

"As soon as we wrap those discussions and get all of those approvals completed, then we'll be able to get work started," said McKinney of the trail extension.

You can count on Schell to document it all.

"I like to get buildings before they're gone, get the vacant site, the very beginnings of construction when the first equipment shows up," he said. 

He's already made a trip to River West to capture photos of the likely home of Chicago's next big project: the Bally Casino.

Schell calculates 19 big construction cranes are up in the city as of now. That's the most since the pandemic hit.

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