The design plans include ideas for each of the six blocks from State Street west. Each block will have a theme: The Marina (from State to Dearborn); The Cove (Dearborn to Clark); The River Theater (Clark to LaSalle); The Swimming Hole (LaSalle to Wells); The Jetty (Wells to Franklin) and The Boardwalk (Franklin to Lake).
The bridges over the river establish a boundary between each block.
The Marina is designed to accommodate restaurant retail space and public seating. The River Theater will serve as the location for the vertical access between Upper Wacker and the Riverwalk level. The Cove may accommodate kayak rental retail space and allow for human-powered watercraft to dock.
The Swimming Hole provides a great area for recreation, which may include a water feature such as a zero-depth fountain. The Jetty is a location for learning about the ecology of the river, with floating gardens and piers for fishing. The Boardwalk will be the site of an iconic bridge bringing people from Upper Wacker down to the Riverwalk level. It will be surrounded by floating gardens and landscaping.
The Chicago Department of Transportation has been working on the Chicago Riverwalk since East-West Wacker Drive reconstruction began in the 1990s. The roadway was reconfigured to accommodate the expansion of the riverwalk to promote a pedestrian walkway and activate the space as a public amenity. The East-West Wacker Project included utility build-outs for the future riverwalk build-out for the entire length from Michigan to Lake Street.
In 2005, CDOT dedicated the Vietnam Veterans memorial west of Wabash Avenue. In 2009, CDOT completed the first phase of the Riverwalk build-out at Michigan Avenue and Wabash, which was funded through Tax Increment Financing.
Funding for the program is still being secured.