A Month After Grand Opening Of Riverwalk East, Renovations Not Yet Complete – CBS Chicago


CHICAGO (CBS) — Before leaving office, Mayor Rahm Emenual celebrated the upgraded Chicago Riverwalk as one of the proudest accomplishments of his time in office, but the rebuild wasn’t exactly finished.

Mounds of dirt blanket a stretch of the Riverwalk between Michigan Avenue and the lakefront. Cones block of a chink of torn-up sidewalk. A stairway is closed. Lights are missing.

It’s a stark contrast to the way the former mayor portrayed the Riverwalk last month when he announced completion of the 1.5-mile stretch known as Riverwalk East.

Emanuel proclaimed Riverwalk renovations as completed in mid-May, holding a grand opening celebration for Riverwalk East before leaving office.

The word “completion” and variations of it appeared on the accompanying press release seven different times.

“It was more complete last year than this year. I mean this year, they dug up this whole area,” Riverwalk user Aaron Dolan said.

While the renovated path on the easternmost section of the Riverwalk was completed in May, new lighting and furniture were delayed due to poor weather.

“Crews are working to finish those tasks as quickly as the weather will allow,” a Department of Fleet and Facility Management spokesperson stated in an email.

“The part that is done is excellent. I mean, it really looks good. I like the chairs and all the places to go, but the parts that aren’t done aren’t done,” tourist Mike Heuser said.

Leo Serieux gave the renovated Riverwalk East a thumbs up, despite the ongoing work.

“I’m a tourist, so I appreciate it,” he said.

Semantics aside, unfinished work isn’t ruining the party at Island Party Hut. Green fencing blocking off nearby construction work is part of a facelift for the popular tiki bar.

“People understand that this has been a moving project for how many years now? It’s just another step in the process, but yes we’ll be open very soon with capacity five times as big,” Island Party Hut owner Mark Stern said.

Gabrielle Laroore said the renovated Riverwalk is one of her favorite things in Chicago.

“The more construction there is, the more I feel like there’s new things coming up,” she said.

The question remains as to when all the renovations on the Riverwalk will be completed.

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