CHICAGO (CBS) — More changes are underway for Chicago’s Riverwalk. Mayor Rahm Emanuel poured $100 million of taxpayers’ money into a western portion of the Chicago Riverwalk to make it a Chicago showpiece. Now the goal is to make the Eastern section just as lively.
The Riverwalk west of State Street has become a prime summer hangout for tourists and locals, alike.
“We’ve got plenty of water, but not right in the middle of a city like this. It’s pretty nice,” said Mike Box, a tourist visiting from Seattle.
Mary Kellogg from Evergreen Park agreed.
“I love the fact you can hang out all day, drink some wine and have some good food,” she said.
The amenities east of State Street, however, simply aren’t the same.
“What the city wants to do is continue some of that down this way,” explained Mike Stern of Island Party Hut, “And continue the theme and momentum that’s on the West.”
The $10 million plan for the Riverwalk from State Street east to Lake Shore Drive will add landscaping and tiered seating.
The swank Vista Tower will build a walkway and glass elevator connecting to the Riverwalk.
Four businesses on the eastern Riverwalk, including Island Party Hut, are pledging their own money, as well.
Stern said he signed a ten-year lease and pledged $1 million of his own money to improve the property.
“After the first year, and even more after the second year, we realized how wonderful it is and how many people it draws,” he said.
Stern’s investments will make the Party Hut a year-round operation.
“The Chicago River, itself, just draws people here,” Stern said.
Three other businesses on the eastern end are also contributing to public improvements on the Riverwalk in exchange for ten-year leases.
Along with Island Party Hut, the businesses are contributing more than $2 million to the project.