During a City Council meeting on July 24, Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave the city of Chicago permission to purchase property at Indiana and Cermak with the intention of building a hotel there.
A couple of days after this meeting was held, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (the governmental agency which oversees Navy Pier and McCormick Place) took legal action to secure the property across the street, where a basketball court will be constructed for DePaul University. Actually, basketball court might be a bit of an understatement. What Emmanuel is envisioning, according to an article from the Chicago Tribune, will be more like an arena, with 10,000 seats.
The city, according to a Chicago Reader article, will pay for these properties with an estimated $55 Million in property tax funds.
Critics of this move claim that ultimately, this puts the taxpayer’s money at stake, and that historically, these sorts of measures haven’t yielded the desired results.
The Reader compares this to what happened when Mayor Daley had the City Council commit to purchasing a different piece of South Loop
real estate — the space that was the site of the old Michael Reese Hospital for $86 Million (only blocks south of the property Emanuel wants to purchase).
Daley was adamant that within a short period of time, private developers might purchase the land back from the city, and thus, no money taken from taxpayers would have been lost. But, the Reader says, that land is still vacant.
Emanuel is persistent that this entertainment center, strategically located in one of Chicago’s fasted growing and increasingly desirable neighborhoods
, will yield money for the city.
Several acclaimed local firms have been recruited to realize Emanuel’s vision. Among the companies are the John Ronan Architects, who designed the magnificent Poetry Foundation building, and Ross Barney Architects, who gave Chicago such gems as the CTA Morgan Street station, and Krueck + Sexton Architects, who are responsible for the stunning Spertus Institute on Michigan Avenue.
The list of project supporters is impressive but whether this real estate investment will turn profitable for the city remains to be seen.