An inside look at Chicago real estate

Breakwater Chicago: The City’s Possible Island in the Sun

Mark.Miles By
Mark Miles
   | Chicago News

Breakwater Chicago island rendering from Blackwater's Kickstarter campaign
Chicago may soon be home to an island paradise of sorts if the Breakwater Chicago project created by engineer Beau D’Arcy doesn’t become landlocked by lack of funding or local government approval. D’Arcy’s plan is create an island resort the size of a football field that would sit about a mile off of Chicago’s shoreline at Erie Street and Lake Shore Drive, according to DNAInfo.

The island in the sun would feature spas, sundecks, three restaurants, retail stores and all the luxuries one would expect from a five star resort on a 300-by-100 foot floating vessel. The estimated cost for the island is $23 million and could open, if the tide is in D’Arcy’s favor, by July 2015, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.

D’Arcy, 33, a Plainfield native who graduated from Harvard Business School, began taking donations for the project this past Tuesday through Kickstarter with a goal of reaching $30,000 through the online funding platform by July 10. As of today the project has already raised over $37,000. D’Arcy plans to use more conventional outlets to raise the remaining money and has said the project has gathered over $500,000 in investments, according to DNAInfo.

“My mission for Breakwater Chicago is to create an entertainment destination that’s unique to Chicago,” D’Arcy told DNAInfo. “It will become an international attraction, bringing visitors to experience our world-class city in an unprecedented way. While I’m proud that this vessel will be luxurious, it will also be family-friendly, exceptionally safe and environmentally conscious.”

If the project becomes a reality it would create 200 full-time and 200 part-time jobs and be capable of handling over 2,800 visitors with a guest rate of $20. Folks without boats flocking to the island would need to use a water taxi to get there. For those with boats, D’Arcy says there will be room for about roughly 30 boats to dock.

Breakwater Chicago island layout from NBC Chicago

Regarding the possibility of the island taking away from the lake’s natural beauty, D’Arcy told RedEye that “we don’t want to be an eyesore out there. It’s going to be white, it’s going to be very slender, very sleek, very appealing. The architects, they’ve always said they want to make it so it’s rising above the water, that it’s part of Lake Michigan and blends in perfectly.”

So how will this proposed island off the shore do when the notoriously unforgiving Chicago winter strikes? According to RedEye, during the winter months Breakwater will dock at a location yet to be determined where the floating island will be covered with a heated dome.

Quite a few regulators, including the Coast Guard, state and city, will have to get on board in order for the Breakwater project to see the light of day. Crain’s reports that the next step is for D’Arcy to complete construction drawings of the project and obtain approval from the Coast Guard, which he hopes to have completed by Labor Day.

Both the Mayor’s office and the city’s tourism board, Choose Chicago, did not respond to requests for comments on Breakwater. Time will tell if the Breakwater project is something attainable in the next year or a grand idea that that could never get off land.