By Jay Levine

(CBS) — Memorial Day weekend marks the opening of a new stretch of Chicago’s downtown riverwalk.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports officials hope the project will be a big draw for locals and tourists alike.

On sunny spring days like Friday, the Chicago River is already teeming with activity from power boats to kayaks, commuters to cruisers. But starting Saturday, the south bank of the river could be just as busy.

“We’re going to open up a part of the city that has been closed for decades and generations,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

The two-block stretch scheduled to open tomorrow isn’t as picture-perfect as the artist’s renderings we saw when the project was announced two years ago.

But the block-long marina from State to Dearborn has come a long way and is nearly ready for bars and restaurants and boats that you already see on the stretches that have been open for years.

Chicago’s O’Brien’s restaurant is excited at the prospect of opening along the river. The city’s cut of the profits from O’Brien’s and the other new businesses will help repay federal infrastructure funds, transforming the south bank from State west to Lake into an urban oasis with seating areas, floating gardens and fishing piers.

Also opening this weekend is The Cove, from Dearborn to Clark, with docks for kayaks and canoes. The six-block project, part of the mayor’s larger river bank renovation, he says, is already drawing private investment of between $7 billion to $8 billion.

The mayor calls riverbank the city’s second shoreline. He says he hopes it becomes nearly as popular as the lakefront.

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