PHOTOS: City gets $100M loan to revamp Chicago Riverwalk - | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

PHOTOS: City gets $100M loan to revamp Chicago Riverwalk

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The Cove: Dearborn to Clark (concept drawing) The Cove: Dearborn to Clark (concept drawing)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

President Obama's Administration said Thursday it has cleared a $100 million loan to his hometown to build six more blocks of the Chicago Riverwalk.

From the north bank of the Chicago River Thursday, Mayor Emanuel and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gazed across to the south bank where City Hall plans to extend the Riverwalk. Artists renderings show kayakers, fishermen, and children splashing in a shallow fountain pool dubbed the swimming hole. There will also be entrepreneurs.

Rahm and his aides envision a Riverwalk with new restaurants, retailers, live entertainment and recreation.

"This Riverwalk becomes another economic corridor in Downtown Chicago for small businesses," LaHood announced.

Secretary LaHood, a longtime congressman from Peoria, said the feds would finalize a $100 million loan for the project by June. Mayor Emanuel said work would begin next year and be completed by 2016, becoming one more attraction in the heart of what's become the cultural and financial capital of the Midwest.

"Our Downtown has changed. It's the fastest growing commercial, residential area in the country, by a factor of three. Nothing is even close," Emanuel said.

The $100 million federal loan would be repaid, in part, using proceeds from river docking fees of water taxis and tour boats. City Hall also plans to sell advertising space along the river, while promising it will not be as intrusive as some previous posters plastered on downtown bridges.

"Any additional advertising would be very tasteful and very limited," Commander of Chicago's Department of Transportation Gabe Klein promises.

At one point, Emanuel hugged LaHood, a longtime Republican congressman from Peoria, and praised him for the billions of dollars he's helped steer to Chicago.

"Under Ray LaHood as Secretary of Transportation, we have the total rehab of the Red Line being built," Emanuel said. "Under Ray LaHood, the 95th Street Station has been funded and totally rebuilt."

The list of LaHood's contributions to Chicago also includes O'Hare Airport's runways and expansion and Wacker Drive's reconstruction.

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