“Emanuel is planning a $10 million facelift for the stretch that would include new landscaping, seating, play areas and walkways. The goal is to entirely revamp what he’s dubbed Riverwalk East to better match the newer western segments.
New gateways would welcome visitors on either side of Michigan Avenue, along the river’s south bank. The walking path will be moved closer to the river. Public art would mask much of Lower Wacker Drive’s underbelly. More trees would be planted. A glass elevator would be installed. New restaurants and bars would be built. And a new walkway under Wacker would connect the Riverwalk to the Lakeshore East neighborhood and Vista Tower, when what will be the city’s third-tallest building is complete.
In addition to the city money, four businesses on the eastern end are chipping in more than $2.3 million toward the Riverwalk redo in exchange for long-term leases along what quickly has become a top outdoor destination downtown.
“The Riverwalk has kind of almost a split personality. There’s a before, and there’s an after,” Emanuel said in an interview. “The whole goal: Two years from now, you won’t think of it as two separate parts, and both will be inviting, and both will be good for the city.””