New, expanded space offers direct access to the Chicago River, connecting residents to outdoor experiences along the North Branch
03.27.2019
SEATTLE – REI Co-op officially opens its new location along the banks of the Chicago River on April 5. REI Lincoln Park was previously located at 1446 North Halsted Street, but has moved to a new 40,000 square-foot space on West Eastman Street. Now, REI Lincoln Park will offer kayak and paddleboard rentals with direct access to the Chicago River and expanded assortments of quality outdoor gear. In addition, REI Lincoln Park will continue to offer a full-service bike, ski and snowboard shop and outdoor programs and events in its new location.
 
“Our new store location on the banks of the Chicago River is one of REI’s most exciting locations. While our new store is larger and offers a wider selection of gear for hiking, biking and camping, it is so much more than a place to shop,” says Mike Daurio, REI Lincoln Park store manager. “With access to the Chicago River, it’s a place where people can gather and enjoy the outdoors, directly from the store.”
 
After years of closure, West Eastman Street has been improved and reopened for public use. The new store location is within a planned ‘wild mile’ along the North Branch Canal that, when complete, will include habitat improvements, pedestrian walkways, fishing stations, vegetative islands, viewing platforms, canoe launches and other amenities that cater to the public and wildlife.
 
Before becoming REI’s new Lincoln Park store, the space on West Eastman Street was a high-bay warehouse that was built in the 1980s. The building has been completely transformed to include a two-story retail space, dedicated indoor parking, outdoor terrace and walkways with views of the river, and a floating dock and ramp. REI partnered with CallisonRTKL to connect the new Lincoln Park store to the riverfront. The design allows customers to rent kayaks and paddleboards in-store and launch directly into the river.
 
“Together with REI Co-op and R2 Companies, we are helping to transform Chicago’s Halsted Triangle from an industrial zone into a vibrant mixed-use environment that emphasizes its relationship to the Chicago River,” says Keith Campbell AIA, CallisonRTKL vice president in Chicago. “Located in the heart of ‘Wild Mile Chicago,’ REI is leading by example and spearheading the remarkable transformation of the riverfront.”
 
REI also offers paddle experiences, rentals and outdoor programs at two other locations around Chicago, including the REI Boathouse at Ping Tom Memorial Park on the Chicago River’s South Branch, and at the REI Boathouse at Saganashkee Slough in Willow Springs.  A national leader in outdoor experiences, REI helped more than 350,000 people across the country get outside through day programming last year. Upcoming day programs in the Chicago area include Introduction to Mountain Biking at Big Marsh Park, Hike and Hops at Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Park and Learn to Kayak.
 
REI Lincoln Park is hosting a grand opening event with free public activities and giveaways April 5-7.
 
  • Shop early, get rewards: The first 250 people (age 18 and up) through the door on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will receive a limited-edition water bottle with a $10, $50 or $100 REI gift card inside. Doors open at 10 a.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. on Sunday.
  • Afternoon social: Starting at 3 p.m. each day, REI Lincoln Park will host a party outside the store with free food, music and games. Vendors will also be onsite offering exclusive giveaways and demonstrations. Events end at 6 p.m. each day.
  • Local partnerships: REI is partnering with local Half Acre Beer Company to offer a limited-edition brew, “Lucky Catfish Lager.” REI and Half Acre Beer Co. are donating 10 percent of beer sales to Friends of the Chicago River.
 
REI has been a part of the Chicago community since 1991 when it opened its Northbrook location. In that time, the co-op has invested heavily in outdoor spaces in the greater Chicago area. In 2018, REI invested nearly $230,000 in local nonprofits including Urban Rivers, Friends of the Forest Preserves and Forest Preserve Foundation.
 
Chicago is also one of five U.S. cities where REI is investing in rewilding efforts to transform urban spaces into areas for outdoor recreation. Over the last three years, REI has partnered with the Chicago Parks FoundationActive Transportation Alliance and Friends of Big Marsh to support the long-term transformation of Chicago’s Southeast Side into a thriving outdoor recreation community. This project has included efforts to develop the Big Marsh property to include mixed-use trails, future paddling opportunities and one of the biggest mountain bike parks in the country. Read more about REI’s rewilding efforts here.
 
Store facts
  • New location: 905 West Eastman Street
  • Square footage: 40,000 square feet
  • Special features: Bike, ski and snowboard shop; kayak and paddleboard rentals with direct access to Chicago River; outdoor patio with seating
  • REI members in Illinois: Over 516,000 lifetime members
  • Other REI locations: Northbrook (opened 1991), Oakbrook Terrace (opened 1994) Vernon Hills (opened 2018)
 
About the REI Co-op
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 17 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 154 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.comREI Outlet or the free REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. You can take the trip of a lifetime with REI Adventures, a global leader in active adventure travel that runs more than 170 custom-designed itineraries worldwide. The REI Outdoor School is run by professionally-trained, expert-instructors who teach beginner-to advanced-level courses about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.
 
About CallisonRTKL
CallisonRTKL is a global architecture, planning and design practice. Over the last 70 years, we have created some of the world’s most memorable and successful environments for developers, retailers, investors, institutions and public entities. Our work has set us apart as the number one retail design firm in the world and a top-five architecture practice across multiple disciplines and sectors. Under the Arcadis umbrella, we continue to expand our sphere of influence and the depth and breadth of our resources. Our team of nearly 1,500 professionals around the world is committed to advancing our clients’ businesses and enhancing quality of life. callisonrtkl.com
 
 
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