Thanks to a vote from the Chicago Plan Commission, your next trip to Navy Pier could involve a little bit of ice skating, a stroll above the waves of Lake Michigan, and an overnight stay.
Commissioners yesterday approved the latest $140 million+ plan to renovate and improve Chicago’s number one tourist attraction. Among the items given the go-ahead from the plan overseen by New York’s James Corner Field Operations:
- The construction of a welcome pavilion in the landside park
- The construction of a seasonal ice skating rink
- A 240-room hotel out toward the end of the pier
- New short-term docks on the north side of the pier
- An elevated walkway and a lake-level water feature way at the end of the half-mile-long structure.
You’ll remember that Navy Pier recently got a brand new, much larger, and much more modern ferris wheel to replace the aging state-fair-grade one that thrilled millions of people for decades.
The one improvement we’re looking forward to most: The continued addition of seating. Navy Pier is still a very “buy stuff, or get out” environment. Not that long ago, if you wanted to sit down, you had a choice of a few fully occupied benches, or to shell out for yet another meal. While we’ll miss the folksy Midwestern carnival atmosphere of the old Navy Pier, the new Navy Pier will give our old bones a chance to rest, eat an ice cream cone, and just enjoy the skyline, the water, and the people. Who knows, they might even bring back corndogs and lemonade. Or is that too carnival?