Cartoon detective Dick Tracy was grabbed from under the armpits, hoisted up by a crane, lifted over the DuPage River in downtown Naperville and loaded into a truck that drove him to his new home for the next 60 days or so: the Naperville Township Highway Department.
The 5-year-old sculpture was removed Thursday from its base along the Riverwalk to make way for construction of a new path that's part of a $93 million development south of the DuPage River that will include a hotel, banquet center, parking, restaurants, shops, offices and new plazas.
The 9-foot-tall sculpture of the comic strip cop drawn by Naperville resident Dick Locher will be moved to a plaza north of the Naperville Township headquarters. The new home will put Dick Tracy on higher ground farther from the river, which has flooded the piece several times.
Locher and his wife, Mary, were on hand Thursday to watch the relocation effort, as was Donald L. Reed of Rivers Edge Foundry in Beloit, Wisconsin, creator of the "Dick Tracy" sculpture.
"They did a great job of doing exactly what they should have," Reed said about the crews who lifted and relocated the piece. "It was kind of a relief."
While the sculpture is in storage, Marquette Companies and Reed will take care of any maintenance. Reed said the sculpture leaked water when it was moved, proving its "big, hollow legs and shoes" took in liquid when floodwaters rose.
Sculptures are designed to handle rain and snow from above, but not always from below. So the hollow inside of Dick Tracy will need to be vacuumed and his outer layer will need resurfacing to restore its original color, the artist said.
"It's had a lot of stress and strain for the last five years," Reed said. "I think we can make it a lot more comfortable and a lot more beautiful, too."
The relocation of Dick Tracy is just one element of the Water Street District construction, which began in April.
The project's construction manager, Lend Lease, said work this month includes erecting precast concrete for a 520-space parking garage, pouring foundations for buildings between Water Street and the DuPage River and pouring walls where new Riverwalk paths will be added.
Next month, contractors say they plan to begin installing structural steel for one of the buildings.