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Urban Land Institute releases Magnificent Mile plan for Chicago

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The 31-page report, Prepared by panels formed by the Urban Land Institute, it offers a range of solutions, from crime prevention to new physical features such as the striking new bridge over Lakeshore Drive at the northern end of the boulevard. The panel also recommends creating a “Grand Public Common” that extends east from the water tower to Lakeshore Drive. Please read the report below.

For decades, the Magnificent Mile has been one of the country’s top shopping destinations, mentioned in the same sentence as New York’s Fifth Avenue and Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive. But today, boulevards offer little differentiation from shopping malls. The current retail mix is ​​”too homogeneous to maintain tourist interest,” the report said.

“Most retailers on North Michigan Avenue can be found in suburban malls of considerable size. Merchandising is about the same as what shoppers can find elsewhere, including online. “The report states. “Food and entertainment options are limited.”

The 11 ULI panel, led by Alicia Berg, Vice-President of the University of Chicago and former Chicago Planning Commissioner, 2-day brainstorming session In late October, local experts in planning, architecture, law and real estate attended.

The panel’s report highlights the importance of North Michigan Avenue to the Chicago economy, with a 23% reduction in the city’s total sales tax revenue for the year due to a reduction in sales tax on postal codes, including the Magnificent Mile, in 2020. I pointed out that I did.

According to Chicago-based Cushman & Wakefield, boulevard retail vacancy rates were 24.7%, down from 26% last year and up from 12% in 2018. Two of its big vertical malls, Water Tower Place and Northbridge shops, are struggling. Northbridge has lost so much value that real estate investors recently transferred its stake to a partner, Loss of $ 28 million In a transaction.

The ULI Panel interviewed 60 people as part of the survey. When asked to identify the biggest concerns about the district, each gave the same answer: crime and public security.With recent car jacks Smash and grab theft It hurt the image of the Magnificent Mile in the area.

“Without more collaborative efforts to reduce actual crimes and their perceptions, any activation strategy is unlikely to have a significant impact,” the report said.

The Commission recommends that the Chicago Police Department increase visibility of the road to deter crime, increase the number of police officers on foot or on horseback, and expand joint police agreements with Northwestern University. Other Ideas: Install more security cameras and launch a branding campaign that includes a media strategy to counter the story of Michigan Avenue being unsafe.

The panel also took a closer look at the Magnificent Mile skyline. One problem: that sidewalk.

“They are beautiful and spacious, but unfortunately they aren’t very active,” says Kimberly Bears, president and chief executive officer of the Magnificent Mile Association, which runs its business on the boulevard. “Like the moving walkway of O’Hare, we just move people straight. We really want people to stay on the street.”

There are multiple solutions to that problem. The report recommends creating new seats and other sidewalk furniture along with “Pocket Plaza” to encourage people to stop, relax and dine. Landlords can modify the building to allow retailers and restaurants to open up the street with floor-to-ceiling windows and indoor / outdoor spaces.

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