Chicago, Illinois Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a $1.1 billion tourism and tradeshow infrastructure redevelopment plan called Elevate Chicago.
It combines previously announced investments worth $470 million with another $640 million for the redevelopment of Navy Pier and creation of an entertainment district at McCormick Place, which is Chicago’s convention center.
The project will create 3,700 permanent jobs and another 10,000 construction jobs, and is expected to fuel economic growth to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
The plan calls for a new 10,000 seat events center, along with two hotels, shops and entertainment venues that are expected to fuel revitalization of Motor Row and other neighborhoods in the vicinity.
One of these hotels is the previously announced 1,200-room Headquarters Hotel and the other one will be a 500-room boutique hotel.
The City and local government agencies would be able to use the venue free of rent for events such as public school contests, graduations, etc.
The improvements and additional facilities will attract more tradeshows and conventions to Chicago, with a skybridge connecting McCormick Place West to the events center, which can be used as a general sessions hall for conventions.
The Navy Pier, already one of Chicago’s popular attractions, will be getting a comprehensive redesign of its public and commercial spaces just in time for its centennial. The $278 million redevelopment plan calls for urban landscaping, pocket parks, social areas and dramatic use of water features.
Marilynn Gardner, president and CEO of Navy Pier Inc, said they were taking what is good and making it great.
The events center arena and surrounding entertainment district is a public-private partnership, with the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) and DePaul University sharing the $140 million cost of constructing the events center.
This will be matched with $400 in private investments to build the two hotels, restaurants and other venues included in the plan for the entertainment district.
Jim Reilly, CEO of McCormick Place, said they needed the events center and assembly hall in order to attract conventions and shows to Chicago and Illinois that were currently going to competing cities that already had such events centers.
Upon completion of the project, the increase in the number of conventions and events, and the resultant increase in hotel demand, is expected to generate an additional $108 million annually for the City of Chicago.
Mayor Emanuel said that the Elevate Chicago plan was a vital step towards realizing the full potential of the City. He said these projects would serve as a major economic engine and would have a lasting impact on the city for generations.