View Full Version : Downtown Chicago--changing shopping districts
The Urban Politician
December 27th, 2004, 02:19 AM
Downtown Chicago's shopping/entertainment/retail scene has changed considerably in the past century. The first great retail boulevard, believe it or not, was Lake St. That changed, long ago, to State St, which became the great street that it was until the 1970's. With construction of new retail and vertical malls, North Michigan Avenue has emerged as the mighty new street.
However, trends continue to shape downtown Chicago. The presence near transit seems to be getting important again. Also, development south of the river is is occurring very rapidly, as we all know.
Trump Tower, Hard Rock Hotel, the developing Riverwalk, the planned Chicago River museum, Millennium Park, The Heritage (with its 4-storey retail center), and the eventual development of Block 37 will all, in their own way, pull development southward down Mich Avenue as well as down Wabash and State street, to meet up with a growing student population across Congress.
Also, have you guys noticed that every-single mid-to highrise being built in the south loop on either Michigan or State st has continuous streetfront retail? What kinds of interesting shopping/entertainment districts will emerge there? Perhaps some day, when people come to Chicago, instead of gravitating towards north Michigan Avenue they may start on State St or on S. Michigan Ave (near Roosevelt), move through the loop, and on northward.
Or perhaps something even completely different will occur--after all, I haven't even mentioned Riverside Park, LaSalle Park, etc.
What kinds of great shopping boulevards have yet to emerge in Chicago and how do you think they will affect downtown trends?
December 27th, 2004, 10:41 AM
Current major retail streets in downtown are State Street, North Michigan Avenue, Rush Street, and I believe Oak Street. I could see a few more being added in the coming years though with downtown's general growth.
December 27th, 2004, 04:53 PM
UP, you mentioned the draw of Trump to the area around the river at the ST site. Combine this location with nearby North Bridge and what you have is the missing link.
That is, the destination of linear core of Chicago's downtown retail was bound to be. For years, the city tried to create a transition zone in the NorthBridge area to link the Mag Mile with State Street.
Clearly that link is nicely falling in place. The result: the burgening retail spine of downtown Chicago, following a path along the Mag Mile southwards to North Bridge and then with the missing link falling in place, hopping a short southwestern path to State St and the river....then down State to Congress. I see this whole thing as a curved spine, Oak St. to Congress, and with far more overlap than ever existed before: State (and neighboring Wabash) has become more upscale (and will be even more so with Block 37...no doubt a future kin to 900N, WTP,ChPl, NB). Michigan Ave has been more and more comfortable with the likes of F&M , Filene's, Marshall's to intrude its high end trade.
Office space in areas north of the river in the NorthBridge area share attributes with the Loop to the south. And the east Loop's residential redevelopment gives rise to a lot of parallels with the MagMile.
So, in my own mind, I not only see the physical link between Mag Mile and That Great Street filling in; I see two streets acquiring more and more of the same attributes although mercifully with each retaining its architectural distinction and unique streetscape environment.
December 28th, 2004, 04:59 AM
Also, have you guys noticed that every-single mid-to highrise being built in the south loop on either Michigan or State st has continuous streetfront retail? What kinds of interesting shopping/entertainment districts will emerge there?
Oh, I think we can expect a wonderful mix of rare shops and offices like Washington Mutual, Starbucks, Walgreens, and maybe even a Quiznos or two?
As pleased as I am to see development continue to grow like wildfire all over downtown; I must say I am tiring of seeing the same damn stores over and over. Let's get some diversity in shopping, eh?
The Urban Politician
December 28th, 2004, 06:27 AM
I have heard some analysis of this. Some believe that shopping districts usually attract generic retailers early on, but once the district develops a sort of character or "niche", it tends to attract more diverse retailers
January 2nd, 2005, 12:18 AM
That all depends on the retail strategy of the landlords in various areas. Fragmented ownership can see individual building owners jusr pursuing the highest rent, which often means a major chain. If a landlord owns a large number of buildings then they might look at boosting overall values rather than the highest rent for the retail units. For example in London, Marleybone high street was seen as run down 10 years ago. The estate owner who owned the majority of buildings in the area decided to pursue a diferent retail strategy. A careful tenent mix was designed so that butchers and bakeries given preference over yet another coffee shop, even t the extent that independent stores that were considered vital to the overal health of the street were charged an affordable rent. Marleybone high street is now seen as one of the nicest of central Londons shopping streets. This has consequently driven up the value of residential and office space as the area has become more fashionable.
So in theory if Chicagos property owners were interested in promoting the long term value of their holdings, then contolling the tenent mix so the retail is more attractive to the new residents and office workers would be in their own interest. The problem is of course that Londons system of estate landlords is fairly unique. They own the freeholds to large chunks of the West End, which has always meant that most of them have looked at protecting the long term value of their estates. Do Chicagos Landowners co-operate on such issues? If they were to get together and promote a more diverse retail and leisure structure then they should see a uplift in their collective rental values. Getting such co-operation is always difficult but after all, Business Improvement Districts were invented in the US, so it could be possible if enough landowners were to get together.
January 2nd, 2005, 03:07 AM
interesting analyses,...I never thought of it that way!