CHICAGO (CBS)– The new and improved downtown riverwalk officially opened for the season Monday.
Chicago’s Riverwalk East, located between Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive, now features new landscaping, additional seating and new public art.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel participated in the grand opening of the upgraded riverwalk.
“It’s becoming a recreational site and the riverwalk is a piece of that whole effort to bring the Chicago River and the residents of Chicago back together,” Emanuel said. “The Riverwalk costs the Chicago tax payers zero.”
Margert Frisbie, of the Friends of the Chicago River, said there has been economic return on investment from people spending money and the riverwalk is economy building for with jobs and new businesses.
Emanuel said the riverwalk has triggered a waterfront building boom with five new office towers and six new apartment buildings.
“We’ve generated with zero down payment from the Chicago taxpayers, close to about $4 to $6 billion in investment along the river,” Emanuel said. “I’d do that trade any day of the week. Zero down, $6 billion back? I’ll make that trade any day of the week.”
This revamp on the eastern portion of the riverwalk cost roughly $12 million dollars.
Monday also marks the start of a week of celebrations including the “Art on The Mart” digital art display.
Starting next month, nine new vendors will be set up in the community marketplace between Michigan and Wabash avenues.