Community assets are those built, natural, cultural and institutional elements that most define a neighborhood. They are anchor institutions, identity markers and community stabilizers. As such, they help guide local capital investment decisions.
With 50,000 more residents than in 1990, and thousands more expected to fill the new units under construction, the Central Area has evolved well beyond the nine-to-five environment that once prevailed. Retail and grocery stores, once few and far between, are now tucked into existing buildings and splayed out in mini-malls along Roosevelt Road, Clybourn, Division, Halsted and State. Residential and retail uses are intertwined with employment centers, creating unique districts on every side of the Loop, each with its own challenges and opportunities.
Nobody has done a full tally of investments recently completed or underway in the Central Area, but they undoubtedly are in the tens of billions of dollars, including a pipeline of 6,400 new residential units; a dozen hotel projects; clusters of new office towers at Wolf Point and elsewhere; McCormick Place expansion; and construction of transit stations. Along with new corporate headquarters, the central city is attracting digital technology businesses, filling huge spaces in the Merchandise Mart, former Montgomery Ward catalog complex, and loft buildings in River North. Filled with college students, theater-goers, and more tourists than ever before, the Central Area is also upping its game in the eat-and-drink department, offering everything from sleek hotel bars and fancy restaurants to vegan fare and food trucks.
More even than before, the central city is a mixed economy, with a dozen drivers from government and finance to tech and tourism. [Excerpted from Summary of Assets]