Contract approved to build arena/hotel near McCormick Place

SHARE Contract approved to build arena/hotel near McCormick Place

A contract to design and build a $564 million event center and hotel complex in the South Loop was awarded on Tuesday to Prairie District 3 Partners.

James Reilly, CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, also known as McPier, recommended the Prairie District 3 group to the Authority’s board at its monthly meeting on Tuesday. The event center is intended as the future home of the DePaul University basketball teams and, with the 1,206-room hotel, could become the centerpiece of a new entertainment district near the McCormick Place convention center.

Total cost of the arena portion of the project — $164 million — had gone up about 17 percent since it was first proposed in early 2012, Reilly said.

RELATED: More images of arena/hotel project

Despite the increased cost, the 10,000-seat arena project will remain a 50-50 partnership with DePaul University. The university issued a statement on Tuesday reaffirming its commitment, saying, “DePaul has built or extensively renovated more than a dozen buildings during the last 15 years, and is quite familiar with the process of adjusting budgets or design plans as actual construction costs become known. We remain committed to the larger project and look forward to helping create a building of which the city can be proud, and doing it as cost-effectively as possible.”

To stay within budget, the arena’s design was altered to put the basketball court at ground level; originally, the plan had been to put the main floor of the arena below grade level. Besides DePaul basketball games, the arena will host concerts, amateur sports and other events.

The groundbreaking could take place in April or May, Reilly said. Construction is expected to take about two years, meaning it would open in 2017,  which would be too late for the originally planned 2016-2017 basketball season.

The partnership is led by Clark Construction Group Chicago LLC, with a 65 percent stake; Bulley & Andrews LLC at 16 percent; Goettsch Partners, at 6 percent; Moody Nolan at 5 percent; Old Veteran Construction at 5 percent and McKissack & McKissack Midwest at 3 percent.

Reilly pointed out that Moody Nolan and McKissack & McKissack are owned by African-Americans and Old Veteran Construction is Latino-owned.

The arena’s construction costs are $150 million, Reilly said. The arena project also includes an additional $14 million in “soft” costs, such as attorneys and consultants.

Reilly said the 17 percent increase in the arena cost is ”reasonable” for a building “we want and need,” and compares with a general increase in similar construction costs of 10 percent during the same time period.

The hotel’s construction cost has remained the same since it was first proposed, at $391 million, but its height has been lowered from 51 stories to 40 stories.

The McPier board will pay its portion of the project from proceeds of previous bond issues, Reilly said.

Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), who represents the neighborhood, said she is pleased with the results of the project because “we did not want to have a big concrete building as a stadium.”

She described the updated design as “active, pedestrian friendly and transparent,” and said it will keep heavy bus and taxi traffic from going right through the residential area.

“We continue to work on traffic and security issues,” she said.

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