The scaled-back plan to build a new hotel, a data center, and an arena on the edge of the Prairie Avenue District is marching forward, with proposals for two of the three components already in McPier’s hands.
This past Friday was the deadline for companies to submit their proposals to the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (“McPier”) for the new Marriott Marquis hotel and the Events Center. Earlier this year, plans for a boutique hotel were temporarily dropped from the McCormick Place expansion project because of land issues.
Both of the main elements of the plan will begin construction in just a few months, according to McPier’s Jon Clay. The Chicago Architecture Blog had a reporter at a public meeting last week where Mr. Clay indicated that construction of the hotel and the arena would begin in January of 2015. People could start staying at the hotel by March of 2017, and the 51-story skyscraper is scheduled to be completed in May of that year. Here’s a more detailed timeline:
- January, 2014—June, 2014: Complete new site bridging design documents
- July, 2014—August, 2014: Hotel design/build request for proposals process
- September, 2014: McPier awards a design/build contract for the hotel
- September, 2014—November, 2014: Demolition of existing buildings
- October, 2014—February, 2015: Hotel design due (sufficient to permit foundations)
- January, 2015: Hotel groundbreaking
- February, 2015—March, 2017: Construction (Substantial completion)
- April, 2017—May, 2017: Construction (Final completion)
The arena/events center will take slightly less time to complete. The MPEA is targeting January 1, 2017 for initial occupancy, and February of 2017 for full completion. Here’s a more detailed timeline:
- January, 2014—May, 2014: Complete revised building bridging design documents
- July, 2014—August, 2014: Event center design/build team request for proposals process
- September, 2014: Award design/build contract for events center
- September, 2014—October, 2014: Rees House relocation
- October, 2014—January, 2015: Demolition of existing building
- eOctober, 2014—February, 2015: Event center design (sufficient to permit foundations)
- January, 2015—Event Center groundbreaking
- January, 2015—January, 2017: Substantial completion of construction
- February, 2017—Final completion of construction
Something new has been added to the McCormick Place expansion plan — a pocket park on the northeast corner of East 21st Street and South Prairie Avenue. It will be designed by TGDA, which has offices in nearby Printer’s Row, and San Francisco’s Gensler, America’s largest architecture firm.
The park will be broken into four sections – One for pets, one for a garden, a children’t play area, and a fourth one that will serve as flex space.
Along with the new park, there will be changes in parking, which is always a tense subject on the edges of downtown where people want an urban lifestyle, but aren’t quite ready to go car-free just yet.
By the time the project is completed in 2017, there will be 51 fewer parking spaces available in the neighborhood. But residents are mostly OK with that. That’s because the 51 disappearing spaces will be what is currently free parking commonly used by suburbanites who don’t want to pay downtown parking prices, or cheap Chicago Bears fans who tromp through the neighborhood rather than pay Solider Field parking prices, or *gasp* use mass transportation.
For neighborhood residents, there will actually be an increase of 183 permit spaces for parking, and two meter spaces. The idea is to put pressure on visitors to take transit, including the new Green Line Cermak station. And those who insist on driving will be encouraged to use one of the 12 parking facilities within three blocks of the events center.
Naturally, when there are events at the events center there will be an increase in traffic. But the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications says it’s nothing it can’t handle. Chicago Police District 1 Commander Al Nagode doesn’t think increased staffing levels are warranted.