New Ferris Wheel in Place, Hotel is Next for Navy Pier

Rendering of the proposed Navy Pier Hotel (Courtesy of the City of Chicago)

Rendering of the proposed Navy Pier Hotel (Courtesy of the City of Chicago)

Every few years the phrase “Navy Pier Hotel” pops up in the news. It comes as regularly as the springtime whiting of Lake Michigan, or Forrest Claypool starting a new government job.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Sunday that the latest hotel proposal will add 200 rooms to the entertainment and amusement complex, all presumably with lake views.

The building, being developed by First Hospitality out of suburban Rosemont and designed by Koo and Associates, is expected to be about five stories tall and sit near the eastern end of the pier. Please generously tip the bellhop who has to drag your luggage a mile out to sea.

You may remember Koo and Associates from such hits at The Wit hotel in the Loop, and the Walter Payton High School Annex.  First Hospitality has developed hotels for close to two dozen flags from Holiday Inn to Marriott.  Locally, think of the new Hilton Garden Inn coming to the South Loop, and the Hampton Inn & Suites at State and Illinois.

Although the announcement of the hotel from the city was filled with the usual enthusiasm, we can’t help but note that the developer hasn’t managed to line up the $90 million needed to get the thing built. Yes, it would be uncharacteristic for city hall to jump on board boasting about a private project that wasn’t certain to happen. But then again, the Wanda Vista Tower is supposed to be a lock, too, and that location remains stubbornly undeveloped.

Lots more details in the press release below:



First Hospitality Group to Develop Hotel as Part of Navy Pier’s Centennial Vision;

Project will be Completed in 2018 and Create 500 Jobs

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Navy Pier, Inc. President and CEO Marilynn Gardner today announced that, for the first time ever, a hotel will be built on Navy Pier. The new hotel is part of Navy Pier’s Centennial Vision, its plan for the redevelopment and reimagination of the 100-year-old Pier. The project will begin construction in 2017 and is expected to create 300 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs.

“Navy Pier is Chicago’s front door, serving as a beacon to visitors and one of our city’s great economic and cultural sites. This new hotel will continue transforming it into a one-of-a-kind destination that will draw even more visitors from across the region and throughout the world,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This new hotel will be a key part of the transformation and our efforts to bring 55 million visitors to Chicago annually by 2020, generating jobs and economic opportunity throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods.”

“As we continue to reimagine the Pier for its centennial and beyond, we are thrilled with the prospect of a hotel to further enhance the Navy Pier experience,” Gardner said. “The hotel will provide a unique place to stay in Chicago year round – not to mention breathtaking and unparalleled views of the Pier, lake and city.”

Comprised of five floors of rooms overlooking Navy Pier’s South Dock, the new hotel will be located on the east end of the Pier next to Festival Hall. The hotel will have more than 200 guest rooms, which will be built above the south-facing Festival Hall terraces, providing guests with spectacular views of the city, Lake Michigan and the Pier.

For the first time in the history of Chicago’s great landmark, Navy Pier will offer guests an opportunity to spend the night on the Pier – a convenient option for both local residents and out-of-town guests attending events on site, in the city on business, or just looking to spend extended leisure time at one of the Midwest’s most popular locations.

Renowned architect Jackie Koo, of KOO, whose portfolio includes the Wit hotel and other commercial and residential properties, has developed the preliminary design for the hotel. The project, which will be developed and operated by First Hospitality Group, is projected to cost approximately $90 million and will not require taxpayer funds. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2017, with the opening slated for the second half of 2018. The hotel brand will be determined at a later date.

The conceptual design for the hotel consists of steel and glass bay windows and balconies that complement the existing architectural elements of Navy Pier. Each room is expected to include a balcony and bay window, showcasing one of the most dynamic and distinctive views of the lake and city.

First Hospitality Group, which specializes in management, acquisition and development of hotel operations throughout Chicagoland and surrounding Midwest areas, will be responsible for the development and management of the hotel.

“The creation of this hip new hotel on one of Chicago’s most famous landmarks is a revolutionary development for the city, and FHG is honored to be a part of it,” FHG President & CEO Robert Habeeb said. “This property will be incredibly special, in terms of both amenities and community impact. FHG will be working very closely with Navy Pier and the city to bring this world-class destination to life.”

The announcement comes on the cusp of Navy Pier’s Centennial Celebration of its 100th anniversary. The Centennial Celebration will afford Navy Pier’s guests the opportunity to experience the historic redevelopment work that has taken place. The Pier has made significant progress in its implementation of its Centennial Vision, a plan for reimagining the Midwest’s most visited leisure destination that will better showcase a vibrant cultural, environmental, educational and recreational landscape.

Location: 600 East Grand Avenue, Streeterville

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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