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Busier streets expected in Streeterville

Submitted on Mon, 10/29/2007 – 12:52.
Story by Michael Pasternak
The already bustling Streeterville area, east of North Michigan Avenue, is already the destination for thousands of tourists every year. And experts say it is likely to get even busier – and more congested – in the year ahead.

At the Streeterville Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 24, Kelly McClanathan, president of the Chicago Hotel Concierge Association and chief concierge at the Palmer House Hilton, told the audience of about 95 local business members to expect even more visitors to the area in 2008.

“The hotel occupancy for 2008 is on its way up,” McClanathan said. “With the Canadian dollar strong, more Canadians are traveling to Chicago.”

Streeterville is home to Navy Pier, Water Tower Place, the John Hancock Center and more than 25 hotels, according to the chamber’s Web site. Every year, more than 8.6 million people visit Navy Pier alone, according to Navy Pier’s Web site.

“In this neighborhood, everything is happening,” said Jim Tyll, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce. “There is so much construction.”

Recently, Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s $507 million Prentice Women’s Hospital opened at 250 E. Superior St. Although Prentice Women’s Hospital is the largest birthing hospital in Illinois, Jean Przybylek, vice president of Operations for Women’s Health at Prentice, told the Chamber crowd it was also the neighborhood’s hospital.

“We are your community hospital,” Przybylek said. The hospital will have 134 obstetric beds.

Przybylek ‘s words were reassuring to some residents who say they worry about keeping Streeterville a neighborhood for the people who live and work there, not just for visitors.

“Everybody has to get along. We need to make sure balance is maintained,” said Gail Spreen, president of the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents. “I think it is a pretty good balance.”

“It’s still small enough that there are people at Dominick’s who know my name,” said Andrew Edeker, a member of the Chamber of Commerce and program director for Pritzker Military Library. “If you’ve lived here long enough, it’s amazing to see how much the neighborhood has changed.”

Edeker, who works in Streeterville but lives on the city’s North Side, said Streeterville is more upscale and modern today.

The neighborhood is expected to undergo even more changes over the next few years.

Philanthropist Annie Lurie donated $100 million to build the Anne and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Memorial Hospital just west of the new Prentice Women’s Hospital at 215. E. Chicago Ave.

There is also another construction project in Streeterville that will change Chicago’s skyline when completed.

“They’re building that big building,” said Norman Light, a member of Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors. The building is the Chicago Spire which will have 193 units and stand 2,000 feet tall.

With 150 stories, the spire will be 500 feet taller than the Sears Tower, which would make it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Construction began in June at 400 N. Lake Shore Dr., according to the project developer, Shelbourne Development Group.

One other project has been mentioned that would bring thousands of people to the area: “Hopefully we are going to get the Olympics in 2016,” McClanathan said.

McClanathan said the Swissotel in Streeterville is currently housing many boxers for the World Boxing Championship. Mayor Daley called the World Boxing Championship Chicago’s chance to show the Olympic Committee it can handle a world sporting event.

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