This is actually Plan B in the mayor's South Loop scheme. In Plan A, unveiled last spring, the mayor said he would buy two chunks of land near the intersection of Cermak and Michigan Avenue—one for the Marriott, and the other for DePaul's basketball arena and a small hotel.
In this plan, he intends to buy three chunks of land. Why the change? Basically, the mayor kind of screwed up.
He assumed that snatching South Loop land from its owners would be as easy as, oh, closing a bunch of schools in poor, black west- and south-side neighborhoods.
But it turned out that the owner of one key parcel—a well-connected construction magnate named James McHugh—wasn't as easy to bowl over as your average west- or south-side parent.
McHugh sued the city, arguing that it had already given him approval to build a data center on the property it now wanted to use for the Marriott hotel.
So the city's either going to have to pay McHugh way more money than it originally offered, or leave him alone to build his data center.
We're tired of contemplating what if. We're in the camp of "we will believe it when we see it". Something tells us this is another change of many many more to come.
For more background, here is a post on the topic from last week.