News brief: Chicago Plan Commission approves McCormick Place entertainment district zoning

The Chicago Tribune reports the Chicago Plan Commission approved project development and zoning for a McCormick Place entertainment district that includes the DePaul basketball arena Wednesday, April 23.

The project is a partnership between DePaul, the city, and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (a state-city agency also known as McPier). Plans include a four-story basketball arena, a 1,200 room Marriott hotel, ground floor retail space and the rehabilitation of the American Book Co. building. The project hopes to revitalize the Motor Row district located south of the Loop.

A proposal by land owner CenterPoint Properties Trust, an Oak Brook-based industrial development firm, for zoning for a 12-story data center at Calumet Avenue and 21st Street was also approved.

Neighbors expressed concern about noise from generators at the proposed data center during community meetings, the Tribune reports. Shifting the Marriott hotel next to the data center “will serve as an incentive for the data center to keep noise levels down.”

In addition, General Counsel Mara Georges said CenterPoint plans to keep down noise with “sound absorbing noise barriers.”

Addressing parking and traffic issues, President of the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance Tina Feldstein said neighbors are “pleased” that CenterPoint has pledged $5.5 million to develop a park at 21st Street and Prairie Avenue. McPier has agreed to maintain the park

McPier has yet “to purchase remaining land from CenterPoint and select a design and build team or the arena and hotel” with McPier CEO Jim Reilly hoping to “break ground on the $600 million, two-year project in early 2015.”

The city will provide $55 million in tax increment financing to pay for the hotel land acquisition and part of the development. The price for the CenterPoint land has yet to be determined.

The result of a lawsuit for land originally slotted for the Marriott hotel at Cermak Road and Indiana Avenue has yet to be determined. If the land is acquired, the city and the agency “hope a private developer can finance the cost of land acquisition” along with “the development of an additional boutique hotel.”