CHICAGO -- May 16, 2013 -- Chicago is elevating its convention and trade show business by transforming the neighborhood surrounding McCormick Place into a vibrant entertainment district, landmark destination and major marketing asset.
The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) today announced details of the McCormick Place Entertainment District, a redevelopment featuring a 10,000-seat events center, dining and entertainment venues, hotels and streetscapes. The events center will serve three primary functions: as a general session hall for conventions and trade shows, a venue for concerts and special events hosted by a variety of organizations and as a home court for DePaul University men's and women's basketball. The building will be linked to McCormick Place West by a pedestrian sky bridge.
The McCormick Place Entertainment District was unveiled by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and MPEA officials as part of a larger announcement of Elevate Chicago, an ambitious tourism and trade show infrastructure program. Also announced was the first phase of Navy Pier redevelopment to update the popular attraction, create a greener, more contemporary urban environment and draw new visitors with evening and year-round entertainment and attractions.
"Establishing the McCormick Place entertainment district along with redevelopment of Navy Pier is a vital step in tapping the full potential of the City of Chicago," said Mayor Emanuel. "These projects represent a major economic engine for Chicago, injecting millions of dollars into our local economy and creating thousands of construction and full-time jobs. From the moment I took office I have focused on attracting people to Chicago and showing off this wonderful city, and these two projects will have a lasting impact on the city for generations."
Located just to the north and west of McCormick Place West, the District will feature new dining and entertainment to serve convention-goers and event attendees, as well as residents of the South Loop and the Chicago metropolitan region. Some activity will occur on the same parcel as the arena/event center and some will be located along South Michigan Avenue and South Indiana Avenue.
"The McCormick Place Entertainment District will become a thriving, pedestrianfriendly hub of restaurants, nightlife, hotels, specialty retail, attractive streetscapes and historic architecture," said Jim Reilly, MPEA's CEO. "This distinctive visitor experience will lift McCormick Place into a category of its own above all of our convention, trade show and meetings competitors."
The new district includes two hotels to better serve conventions and trade shows and visitors attending events. A 1,200-room hotel with the facilities and amenities to serve as a single headquarters hotel for McCormick Place shows will make Chicago an even more appealing convention and trade show destination. A 500-room mid-market boutique hotel will be developed adjacent to the events center.
Total investment in the District is projected at $841 million for construction and land acquisition for the events center, boutique hotel and entertainment/dining venues. Costs will be shared by MPEA, DePaul University, the City of Chicago and private investors.
The $140 million cost of building the events center will be shared equally by MPEA and DePaul, given its joint use as a public and private facility.Jim Reilly, CEO of MPEA, said DePaul's participation will allow MPEA revenues to be invested in other aspects of the District to ensure its success as a premier regional, national and global destination.
"We are focused intensely on becoming and remaining the world's leading convention and trade show destination. To do this, we must have not only state-of-the-art convention facilities; we also need this assembly hall and events center," said Reilly. "Most of our competitors have events centers, which allows them to attract a range of shows and conventions that are more difficult for us to attract with competitive pricing. We are fortunate to have a private partner in this venture to share construction and operations costs."
The events center's most direct impact on the convention and trade show business will be its use as a general session space for shows. MPEA projects the hall will draw at least 11 new conventions and trade shows in its first four years. Shows would realize costs savings and efficiencies from using the arena with its fixed seating rather than paying to set up a large general session in a ballroom.
"The proposed multi-purpose events center will immediately improve our ability to attract new shows. And it will help revitalize the entire neighborhood, creating jobs and economic opportunity in the process -- all of which benefitsthe entire city and region. It's a true public benefit to have DePaul as a private partner in this venture," Reilly added.
With restaurant and retail space at street level, the "headquarters" hotel also will accelerate development along historic "Motor Row," which stood as the center of the auto trade at the beginning of the 20th century. Hotel plans call for incorporating and restoring facades of four Motor Row buildings along South Michigan Avenue.
While preserving the valuable historic character and feel of Motor Row, the vibrant new district is expected to generate substantial private redevelopment in the area.
An economic impact analysis conducted for MPEA by HVS Consulting demonstrates the dramatic impact of this project, especially the surrounding area bounded roughly by 20th St., the Stevenson Expressway, Michigan Avenue and Calumet Avenue. More than $1.2 billion in spending during the construction period is expected to create more than 7,400 temporary jobs. Upon completion, MPEA projects that an additional $250 million per year will be spent in the area, which should support more than 2,500 jobs.
"This authentic, lively urban experience will serve as a compelling alternative to Orlando and Las Vegas," said Reilly. "But the McCormick Place Entertainment District also will help Chicago better compete with mid-sized cities such as New Orleans, Indianapolis and Minneapolis -- which feature neighborhoods with restaurants, nightlife and retail within walking distance of their convention halls."
Revitalizing the area around McCormick Place has tremendous potential not only to catapult the city's convention, trade show and meetings business to a new level, but also to create a new destination for Chicago-area residents and visitors. It will provide direct access to Chinatown and connections to Lake Michigan, the Lakefront train system, Soldier Field, Museum Campus and other cultural and recreational attractions. Access also will be made easier by construction of a new CTA Green Line station nearby.