McCormick Place meeting fields concerns about DePaul arena construction

Alderman Pat Dowell of the Third Ward held a community meeting at McCormick Place Tuesday night to field concerns from the surrounding populace about the impending construction of a new events center slated for completion in 2016.

Due to it being more of an informational meeting, little mention was made of the recent amendments to the construction plans which included reallocation of TIF (Tax Increment Financing) funds and relocation of a 1,200-room Marriott hotel.

Community questions ranged from tax impacts to noise and aesthetics queries. The biggest concern was density issues, as multiple attendees voiced their displeasure over the increased volume of people and cars that is inevitable. Dowell tempered that by touting community benefits.

“This will be a catalyst for economic and job growth,” Dowell said. “The desire for more open space, more restaurants, more vitality – those will be addressed by this project.”

But the aura wasn’t completely negative from the attending community members. Many volunteered their opinions that the project is a superb effort from the city to revitalize an area that needs tourism. This included, interestingly enough, multiple architectural tour guides who gushed over the potential benefits.

For those concerned about how it will impact their way of life when construction begins in late 2014, one of the members of the audience put it best: “You knew you were moving to a high-density area, so you knew what you were getting into.”