Plans to revive Chicago's McCormick Place, the city's largest convention center, with a surrounding entertainment district took a major step forward this week when city officials gathered to break ground on the Marriott Marquis Chicago Hotel, a $390-million,1,206-room facility that will put conventioneers in closer proximity to the venue, located miles south of the Loop.
After undergoing revisions, another component of the district, a new $164-million basketball arena for DePaul University's Blue Demons, is due to break ground in late September. Originally due to break ground this month, the project was delayed in order to raise portions of it to grade level, adding 12 feet to the height of the height of the facility.
In addition to hosting basketball games, the arena will serve as an events center for concerts and other activities, programming city planners is key to drawing visitors to the areas.
Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), the entity that owns and operates McCormick Place, says the hotel will bring 2,500 permanent jobs and “thousands” of construction jobs to the area.
MPEA likewise estimates the hotel will create 7,400 construction jobs.
“We are excited to take this important step in realizing MPEA’s long-term strategy to bring more convention business to Chicago,” MPEA CEO Lori Healey indicated at the groundbreaking. “The Marriott Marquis Chicago will not only play a crucial role in maintaining Chicago’s leadership in the industry, it will help anchor a concerted effort to revitalize the surrounding neighborhood through development of the McCormick Place Entertainment District.”
Long-term plans for the district call for a walkable experience for convention-goers and residents, with convention center, hotel and arena serving a further catalyst for economic development Chicago's historic Motor Row along South Michigan Avenue and other Near South Side areas.