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Redeveloped park to be named after Maggie Daley

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley holds hands with grandsKevConroy 4 while keeping Jack 6 close Saturday. With them are his

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley holds hands with grandson Kevin Conroy, 4, while keeping Jack, 6, close on Saturday. With them are his daughters, Elizabeth Hotchkiss (left) and Nora Conroy, and granddaughter Maggie Conroy, 9. | DOM NAJOLIA~SUN-TIMES

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Updated: September 27, 2012 11:39AM

A 20-acre downtown park will be redesigned and renamed for Maggie Daley, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Saturday as he showcased plans for the Grant Park site dedicated to the “soul of our city.”

Construction will begin this fall to transform Daley Bicentennial Park, just east of Millennium Park, into Maggie Daley Park, a green space with rock-climbing sculptures, an ice-skating ribbon and a play garden. The park is slated to open in 2015, Emanuel said.

Saturday’s announcement at the Chicago Cultural Center was a family affair for the Daleys and Emanuels, as former Mayor Richard M. Daley stood alongside his son and two daughters, three grandchildren and Emanuel’s wife and children.

“This park will remind us of the mission Maggie set for all of us, which is to serve our children, to make it a place where kids can grow and learn the beauty of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said.

Daley chuckled when Emanuel recalled how Maggie yelled at the two men as they talked during an After School Matters concert. He spoke softly and fondly of his late wife’s affection for children. “Maggie loved this city and she loved its children especially And we are fortunate enough in our lives to have children,” Richard Daley said. “And all of the children in Chicago, Maggie loved.”

The $55 million park will be paid for with public and privately raised funds, city officials said: $10 million from private funding, of which $5 million has been secured; $35 million from leasing the parking garages beneath Millennium Park and Grant Park, and $5 million from Chicago Park District capital funds.

Park district officials say it’s the right time to renovate park; the East Monroe Street Parking Garag,e which supports Daley Bicentennial Park, is in need of extensive work that will require the entire plaza to be removed.

Construction will continue through the winter of 2014, with additional plantings just in time for the planned opening, officials said.

Maggie Daley died last November at 68 after a long battle with metastatic breast cancer.

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