Two new sections of Chicago Riverwalk open Friday

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Artist’s rendering of new Chicago Riverwalk extension. | City of Chicago

Two new sections of the downtown Riverwalk opened Friday, while a slew of new vendors were slated to open for business on Saturday.

The new sections stretch from State to Clark Street. Another section, between Clark and La Salle, will open within a week, according to the mayor’s office.

The lineup of vendors along the Riverwalk from La Salle to Lake Shore Drive includes WanderBikes, Urban Kayaks, Island Party Hut, Wheel Fun Rentals, Cyrano’s Café & Wine Bar, Mercury Cruises, O’Brien’s Riverwalk Café, Bike and Roll Chicago, City Winery, Downtown Docks, Flanders Belgium Beer and Fries, and Wendella WaterTaxi.

Urban Kayaks, Mercury Cruises and Bike and Roll are already open, while Wanderbikes and O’Briens will open this weekend. Wheel Fun will open next week, and the other vendors will open within the next few weeks, according to Shannon Breymaier, a spokeswoman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

One of the vendors, Island Party Hut — a pop-up tiki bar with party boats — will open Saturday, according to its sister company Island Party Boat, which runs party boats out of Monroe Harbor.

O’Brien’s has operated on the Riverwalk since 2009, where it averaged a high of $884,493 in revenue in 2010.

The Riverwalk also will offer live music later this summer through the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. A list of programming and events is expected to be available in the next few weeks.

“It’s exciting to see the vision of the Riverwalk coming together and becoming a reality. It’s a big step forward in making the river the next great recreational frontier in Chicago,” Emanuel said in an emailed statement.

Construction on the third and final phase will begin this summer, extending the Riverwalk to Lake Street.

In February, City Hall issued a “notice of availability” to operate concessions along new and old sections of the Riverwalk between May 3 and Nov. 1.

After that, the Department of Fleet and Facilities Management intends to hand off responsibility to a designated team of developers charged with overseeing 100,000 square feet of retail space and using a “variety of financial structures” to pay off a $99 million federal loan and make the Riverwalk a “self-sustaining amenity and asset.”

Contributing: Fran Spielman

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