Navy Pier aims to place a five-story boutique hotel near the east end of the man-made peninsula, and plans to start looking for developers this summer.
According to Nick Shields, a spokesman for Navy Pier Inc., which manages the pier, private developers seeking to finance, build and operate the hotel will be able to submit proposals in the next few months.
The hotel would contain between 150 to 225 rooms, Shields said. It would be built above an existing two-story structure that currently houses a dining and entertainment venue. The hotel will be located next to Festival Hall, a 170,000 square-foot exhibition space near the east end of the pier.
The ballroom on the far east end of the pier won’t be affected.
Shields stated it was too early to discuss a price tag or design details for the hotel, which is part of a larger face lift currently underway at the pier to modernize Illinois’ largest tourist attraction. Navy Pier has remained open during construction this summer. The cost of upgrades is $115 million — funded by bonds issued by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which owns the pier and McCormick Place.
Upgrades include a new fountain at the west end of the pier that will double as an ice rink in the winter.
Navy Pier attracts roughly nine million visitors annually, but officials at the pier anticipate that figure will increase by two million.
“All rooms at the hotel will face the south dock, with beautiful views of the water,” Shields said.
One challenge the hotel will face is drawing visitors during winter lulls.
“We’re very excited about where Navy Pier is headed,” Shields said. “It can be elevated into a world class year-round destination.”
The project still needs approval from the Chicago Plan Commission.