Hotel planned for Navy Pier, mayor says

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Chicago-based First Hospitality Group will develop and operate the hotel, which is slated to open in late 2018. (WLS)

A 200-room hotel will be built on Navy Pier, the first ever hotel at the pier, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office announced Sunday.

The project will cost about $90 million and not utilize taxpayer funds, according to a statement from the city. Construction is expected to begin in 2017 and open in late 2018.

"There is a lot of great hotels in town but there is no hotel on Navy Pier. Staying at this hotel will be an experience like no other," said Tammy Chase, a Navy Pier spokeswoman.

The five-story hotel will be built on the east end of the pier next to Festival Hall, overlook Navy Pier's South Dock and providing guests with spectacular views of the city, Lake Michigan and the Pier.

The project - which Emanuel said will create 300 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs -- is part of Navy Pier's Centennial Vision, a plan for the redevelopment and reimagination of the 100-year-old Pier.

Architect Jackie Koo, of KOO, whose portfolio includes the Wit hotel and other commercial and residential properties, has developed the preliminary design for the hotel.

Chicago-based First Hospitality Group will be responsible for the development and management of the hotel. The group owns 19 hotels in Illinois under banners such as Hyatt, Hilton, Holiday Inn and Marriott.

"The creation of this hip new hotel on one of Chicago's most famous landmarks is a revolutionary development for the city, and FHG is honored to be a part of it," said Robert Habeeb, the president and CEO of First Hospitality Group.

The Navy Pier hotel brand will be determined at a later date.

Navy Pier was a naval training facility during World War II. Afterward it served as a branch of the University of Illinois. And after years of neglect it was transformed into one of Chicago's top tourist destinations.

The hotel plan comes on the heels of another recent announcement: Chicago in 2015 set a record for domestic tourism, drawing 50.97 million visitors.

Last year the Pier unveiled its new Ferris wheel that rises to 196 feet, almost 50 feet higher than the one it replaced.

More than 8 million people visit Navy Pier annually. It is billed at the top-attended leisure destination in the Midwest.

The Pier stretches more than six city blocks and contains 50 acres of parks, restaurants, attractions, retail shops, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exposition facilities.

"Navy Pier is Chicago's front door, serving as a beacon to visitors and one of our city's great economic and cultural sites," Emanuel said.

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report
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