City of Chicago and WBC Present Unique Partnership to Create Chicago’s Newest Entertainment and Recreation Destination Along Riverwalk


The City of Chicago is advancing the commercial development around Chicago’s Riverwalk with a request for proposal (RFP) on this unique partnership investment opportunity. The premier downtown investment has the potential to drive roughly $3 billion in net new spending in the Chicago economy over the next 35 years.

“The Chicago River and surrounding land have the potential to be a top entertainment and recreation destination for residents and tourists alike,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “We look forward to seeing proposals that will optimize the Chicago River area and, ideally, showcase Chicago businesses.”

More than 10 million square feet of commercial office, mixed-use and residential space is currently being developed or planned along the river, in addition to the Riverwalk. Approximately 41percent of the city’s workforce is employed in this area, and its retail vacancy rates are much lower than those of the metro as a whole.

The Chicago Riverwalk extension is part of the larger Wacker Drive Reconstruction Project. The Riverwalk will complement the new roadway, bringing residents and visitors down to the river level. The original portion of the Riverwalk was completed in 2009 and runs west from Michigan Avenue to the east side of the State Street Bridge. This segment includes the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, as well as a limited number of restaurants and vendors. Other parts of the Riverwalk, including those east of Michigan Avenue, were completed in the 1990s.

The physical extension of the Riverwalk is currently underway and includes a six-block section of Lower Wacker Drive along the southern bank of the Chicago River, running west from State Street and curving south to Lake Street. The project will provide an alternative, continuous pedestrian pathway with recreational, educational and retail opportunities. Through federal assistance by the Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA), the City has invested in infrastructure build-out of the marine sea wall and public amenities. The request for proposal is for development partners for the commercial component of the Riverwalk.

With more than 100,000 square feet of commercial development opportunity, the Chicago Riverwalk is a transformative investment. The City planned the overall conceptual designs, but will entertain proposals that suggest additional concepts to maximize the potential of the entire Riverwalk footprint year-round.

More information on the Chicago Riverwalk RFP can be found on the City of Chicago’s websiteor at City Hall (121 N. LaSalle Street, Ste. 301). Proposals are due at 4pm on September 30, 2014.

Investing in next generation infrastructure is a key component of Mayor Emanuel’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs, currently being implemented by World Business Chicago (WBC). For more information about the Riverwalk investment opportunity, see the linked Investment Memo.

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Chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, World Business Chicago drives regional economic growth. WBC collaborates to create jobs, cultivate talent, and put Chicago at the forefront of the global economy. A unique public-private partnership, WBC engages business and community leaders to advance Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs.