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Surf park proposed for Montrose Beach

Daring Chicagoans may not have to zip up a wetsuit, jump into chilly Lake Michigan and hop on a surf board just to ride a wave.

They could hang ten without dipping a toe in the lake if Chicago Surf, a proposed stationary surf park, opens next summer at Montrose Beach.

The Chicago Park District has entered into a concession agreement with K.C. Hoos, founder of Chicago Surf LLC, park spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner confirmed Tuesday night with RedEye.

The concession agreement does not require park district board approval because the terms of a contract would be for less than 10 years, she said. 

Under Hoos' plan, the Chicago Surf park would have what looks like a rectangular pool on land featuring a 16-foot wide and 46-foot long wave-generating machine surrounded by a 7,500-square-foot patio with a full kitchen to serve food and beverages.

Hoos, 36, said he has been working with the Chicago Park District over the past few years to bring a simulated surfing experience to Chicago.

The Wilmette native picked up surfing after he moved to Southern California in 2000. When he returned to Chicago a year and a half later, he drove down Lake Shore Drive and noticed huge waves that were "uncharacteristically large enough to surf," said Hoos, who currently lives in Lincoln Park.

He thought, "How cool would it be to surf in Chicago?" he said.

He eventually began working on plans for an outdoor surf park, beach-side cafe and retail shop he's now calling Chicago Surf.


EXTRA: What could the surf park look like?


Chicago Surf's surf stream machine creates ocean-like surfing conditions in a controlled environment, Hoos said. At the park, up to eight people would be able to boogie board or up to four people would have room to stand up on surfboards at any given time and ride the waves. Water speeds and depths can be adjusted to create up to six-foot-tall waves.

Hoos hopes to charge $40 for hourly surf sessions including surf board and helmet rental during peak time from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

"It's safe enough and fun enough for young children. It has that repeat factor that people want to get better and improve their surfing skills," Hoos said. "It's fun for young kids. It's fun for teenagers and it's fun for young adults and beyond that."

Hoos said the project is privately funded but would not disclose a cost estimate. He has created a Kickstarter campaign to raise $101,000 toward generating support and awareness and adding a heated tent to extend the surfing season into colder months like March, April, September and October. So far, only 5 percent of the goal has been reached.

Montrose Beach is home to a number of water sports including kayak, paddleboard and Jet Ski rentals. Hoos proposed to take over the existing concessions building where kayak rentals are currently located near the volleyball courts for Chicago Surf, he said.

The park district allows surfing in the lake from Memorial Day to Labor Day only at Montrose and 57th Street beaches. The rest of the year, surfing is allowed at Osterman, Montrose, 57th Street and Rainbow beaches.

Hoos expects the surf park to be an attraction even for people not into surfing. People can watch and cheer on thrill-seekers trying the sport.

He would like to start construction in the fall so it can be completed in time for a May 2015 opening.


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Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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