Yesterday we posted about some retail openings on Cermak and today we post about Blair Kamin's take on the new Marriott Marquis and the Wintrust Arena. All in all, he's not super impressed with the architectural additions, but did note that simply building these structures were a step in the right direction for the area (via Chicago Tribune):
However one comes down on the issue of whether the hotel and arena were worth building, it’s likely that they will advance McPier’s goal of creating a vibrant convention and entertainment district. But achieving that goal will require the endurance of a marathon, not the short-burst energy of sprint. There are good steps here and they could some day help lead to a buzzing South Loop version of the city’s revitalized Near West Side. But it will take much more, particularly the restoration and re-use of historic buildings in the nearby Motor Row district, to make the area around McCormick Place walkable and an authentic part of Chicago — in short, a place with a there there.
We were recently down in the area and while it still lacks the buzz of Roosevelt or some of the streets north of that, it does feel like it's moving in the right direction. We'll see if it can be sustained.