A key downtown office district known as the LaSalle Street corridor has suffered the effects of COVID-19 along with the loss of several large firms which have left to move into spaces along Wacker Drive or in Fulton Market. Now, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has revealed plans to revive the LaSalle Street corridor, also known as the Financial District, by adding multiple new apartments and affordable units in the area. The mayor is looking to transform vacant office spaces into brand new residential units by offering city subsidies to developers.
At the press conference, the mayor mentioned plans to fill the corridor’s empty offices with new renters– including hundreds of low and moderate-income workers, who are typically shut out of the exorbitantly-priced downtown living. This will turn the corridor around, bringing new life and business to the area. To fulfill Lightfoot’s commitment to equity and plan to subsidize will have housing developers set aside 30% of the new units for low and moderate income residents.
The mayor also mentioned during an afternoon conference, that an estimated 5 million square feet of commercial space now lies unused after LaSalle Street lost major tenants like BMO Harris and Chapman & Cutler, who left for the new BMO Tower in the West Loop.
Planning and Development Commissioner Maurice Cox mentions that the eight blocks along LaSalle Street currently have a higher vacancy rate than any other part of downtown.
Filling the space with tenants is the first step, though this isn’t an immediate fix. They plan to boost activity by bringing local retailers, grocers, and restaurants to the currently empty storefronts, hopefully encouraging locals and tourists alike to come to the area. Another cornerstone of this change sees city officials accepting proposals to transform building lobbies into spaces for “cultural or entertainment purposes”.
Lightfoot also vows to showcase Chicago’s artists by opening pop-up galleries in storefronts. Developers have until Dec. 23 to submit proposals, as city officials plan to finalize a list by early next year.
In allowing developers to use government financing tools over a five-year span, they plan to create over 1,000 new apartments, retail, and more on nearby streets– along with the blocks between LaSalle, Washington Street, Jackson Boulevard, and the Chicago Board of Trade Building.
Would you move to LaSalle Street?