CHICAGO
05/16/2013 10:29 am ET Updated May 16, 2013

DePaul Arena At McCormick Place, Navy Pier Revamp Part Of Rahm Emanuel's $1.1 Billion Tourism Plan

Updated story

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday announced a $1.1 billion plan for a new DePaul University basketball arena to be built across the street from McCormick Place as well as major improvements -- some new, some previously announced -- to Navy Pier.

It's all part of a plan to seriously redevelop the city's "tourism and tradeshow infrastructure" through a mix of private and -- controversially -- public funding, the Chicago Sun-Time reports.

According to the Sun-Times, which first reported on the plan for the new $173 million 10,000-seat arena at McCormick Place on Monday, DePaul will contribute $70 million to the arena while $70 million will come from the McPier's bond fund -- which is backed by local hotel and motel taxes.

The remaining $33 million for the arena -- which will host trade shows and concerts in addition to DePaul basketball -- will be paid using tax-increment financing (TIF) district funds.

(What are TIF funds? Read this primer from the Chicago Reader.)

Accompanying the arena under the plan will be a new 500-room boutique hotel plus new restaurants and entertainment venues, according to ABC Chicago -- as well as a previously-announced new 1,200-room hotel.

The mayor is connecting the McCormick Place upgrade to a planned $278 million facelift for Navy Pier that will include a new interactive fountain at its entrance, an expanded Children's Museum, more bars and restaurants and the building of a $48 million "flyover" bike path to ensure guests' safety while walking to the pier, NBC Chicago reports.

The flyover will be an elevated bike path built along the often-congested stretch of the lakefront path between the Chicago River and Oak Street, according to CBS Chicago. The fountain, according to WGN, will become an ice skating rink during the winter months.

(Read more on the flyover.)

It's all part of an effort to make Navy Pier feel less "cheesy" and more like a "world-class destination," according to the Sun-Times.

Construction on the Navy Pier upgrades -- which were first hinted at almost two years ago -- is expected to begin in the fall.

Emanuel said the ambitious plan -- called "Elevate Chicago" -- will be responsible for creating 10,000 construction jobs and 3,700 permanent jobs in Chicago.

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