Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=216168
Story Retrieval Date: 4/19/2014 2:01:27 AM CST

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Courtesy of City of Chicago

Artist's rendering of the proposed headquarters hotel near McCormick Place.


New hotel plans to help Chicago compete with Las Vegas

by Kavya Sukumar
Feb 19, 2013


Chicago wants you to visit, stay and host your conventions in the city. But there may be something missing.

“A lot of the other cities that are viable options for hosting conventions have numerous hotels near the facilities,” said Tom Alexander, a spokesman for city of Chicago.

The 1,200-room hotel near McCormick Place, that was announced Tuesday by Gov. Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, aims to address this need.

This hotel, if built, will double the number of hotel rooms near the convention center. Published reports late Tuesday indicated the owner of the proposed hotel site has not agreed to sell the land to the city.

“This new hotel will help us make the case why our state should be the first choice of any show anywhere, which will fuel our continued economic recovery and put more people to work,” Quinn said in a press release.

This $400 million “headquarters hotel” project will add 2,500 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs.

Headquarters hotels can host an entire convention in the hotel and have access to the facilities at the McCormick Place convention center, Alexander said, explaining how a headquarters hotel differs from others.

“We expect this will attract at least 15 to 20 mid-size conventions of 3,000 to 10,000 attendees each,” Alexander said.

“Hundreds of additional hotel rooms within walking distance of McCormick Place will strengthen our competitive edge and attract new business to Chicago. It also will generate hundreds of new full-time and construction jobs and increase the vitality of the neighborhood surrounding McCormick Place,” said Jim Reilly, exposition authority chief executive officer.

However, some people like Eric Tellez are not delighted by the prospect of billing a new hotel construction to the city. Tellez is the communications and research coordinator at Grassroots Collaborative, a policy change activism organization.

“There is no shortage of hotels in the city,” Tellez said. “We have bigger problems to deal with like lack of social security and economic development. This is not a gamble the city should be willing to participate in.”

The project will be financed by bonds issued by the pier authority, with the bonds to be paid off by hotel revenues.. Alexander confirmed that the project, however, will not benefit from TIF funds.

“It is a question of priorities,” Tellez said.

The construction is expected to be completed by early 2016.