WEST LOOP — Mayor Rahm Emanuel Tuesday celebrated the opening of the newest addition to Chicago's skyline — a gleaming silver-blue glass 52-story office tower that overlooks the confluence of Main, North and South Branches of the Chicago River.
Built on a long vacant lot at Canal and Lake Streets along the L tracks, River Point includes a 1.5 acre public park along the river on top of the Amtrak and Metra train tracks.
The $500 million project — which got off the ground with $29 million from the area's Tax Increment Financing District — is a "powerful statement about what's happening" along the Chicago River, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.
The park is now part of the largest Downtown waterfront plaza, and includes a 560-foot-long walkway along the river.
First proposed in 2007, the tower designed by architectural firm Pickard Chilton was stalled by the Great Recession of 2008 and finally got off the ground in 2011 with Emanuel's support.
Instead of an empty lot, the building is a "grand statement of optimism, strength and power" in Chicago, Emanuel said.
Built without tenants committed to leasing any of the 1.1 million square feet of office space, the building — which includes a conference center, fitness center and 150-car garage — is now 85 percent occupied, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said.
"It was built as a vote of confidence in the city," Reilly said.
Emanuel will host a global forum on urban waterways on March 13 at River Point along with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. The conference will bring together 19 mayors from 12 countries spanning five continents, representing 45 million people, officials said.
Iconic Rush Street steakhouse Gibsons plans to open a steakhouse and bar in River Point.
Site Selection magazine has named Chicago the "Top Metro" area for corporate relocations and expansions for two years in a row.
[Hines/River Point Plaza]