INA – Governor JB Pritzker announced on Wednesday August 3 that a long-awaited renovation of the Rend Lake Resort will begin in 2023 with an investment of more than $17.5 million. The funding will be used to renovate the conference center, restaurant, cabins, pool and boat, which collectively will enable the resort to accommodate accommodation guests, conferences and other visitors and events.
“For 50 years, Rend Lake has been a shining example of the rich history, human ingenuity and sustainability values that make Illinois special,” Pritzker said.
“Today, I am proud to announce that we will be investing over $17 million to renovate Rend Lake Resort, restoring the site to its former glory. With this funding, we are strengthening our tourism industry, our economy, our leisure offerings, and our holistic and social well-being all in one.
Rend Lake Resort is located within the 3,300 acre Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area and is operated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on the shore of Rend Lake in Franklin and Jefferson counties. The resort site includes a hotel, conference center, chalets, restaurant, boat, gift shop, swimming pool, tennis courts and more.
Opened in May 1991, the space was closed in 2016 after mold was discovered in the hotel and other buildings, requiring extensive site-wide remediation. At the peak of its operation, the station attracted 2.4 million visitors a year and employed up to 125 staff. It had an estimated economic impact of nearly $245 million in 2010, and occupancy rates were around 90% during the peak season period between late spring and late fall.
“Rend Lake Resort was, and will continue to be, an important part of our regional economic engine for Southern Illinois,” said Sesser Mayor Jason Ashmore. “The resort will provide more opportunities for visitors to Rend Lake, which will stimulate economic growth for all surrounding communities. We want to thank Governor JB Pritzker, DNR, CDB, Senator (Terri) Bryant, Senator (Dale) Fowler and Rep. (Dave) Severin for all their hard work in making this happen.
Rend Lake is the second largest of Illinois’ three man-made lakes with 19,000 acres of water and 162 miles of shoreline. The lake itself is operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers and is an economic engine for southern Illinois. Easily accessible from Highways 57 and 64, it is a popular site for boating, fishing, hunting, camping, picnicking, hiking, swimming, golfing and more. The lake also provides drinking water to customers in seven southern Illinois counties.
“I want to thank Governor Pritzker for helping us make this long-awaited project a reality,” said Colleen Callahan, IDNR Director. “This is more than an investment in Rend Lake Resort. It’s also an investment in our state parks, local jobs, the regional economy, and the people of southern Illinois.
Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area attracts over 1.3 million visitors annually. Dedicated in 1975, the park is popular for hunting, camping, wildlife viewing, picnicking, boating access, horseback riding, field trials and other activities outdoors. The park is named after the late Wayne Fitzgerrell, a former Sesser State Representative who was a strong advocate for the construction of Rend Lake.