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Mayor Rahm Emanuel was joined by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on Thursday to announce that the city's ambitious push to revamp the Chicago Riverwalk is $100 million closer to becoming reality.
The city applied for and is slated to receive a $100 million federal loan that will cover nearly the entire price tag of a big makeover for six blocks of the riverwalk, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Last October, the city pulled back the curtain on their lofty plan to expand retail space along the walk between State and Lake streets, as well as offering public seating, kayak rentals, floating gardens, fishing piers and more.
The city will reportedly need to pay the loan back -- plus 3.1 percent interest -- within 35 years of when construction begins next year. LaHood told NBC Chicago he is confident the city will be able to make good on the deal thanks to revenue from existing tour boat and water taxi docking fees, sponsorships and a "limited" and "tasteful" amount of advertising.
"The financial stability of this project is solid," LaHood told the station, citing a previous independent review of the proposed loan, which is being provided under the expanded Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and is set to be finalized this summer.
Emanuel said he hopes the revamp will be completed by the end of 2016, according to the Chicago Tribune. He said that the expansion should create 400 construction jobs and 400 long-term jobs.
"I want to make the Chicago River the next recreational frontier for the City of Chicago, to compliment what we're doing in our neighborhoods," the mayor added, according to ABC Chicago.