Motor Row one step closer to becoming an entertainment district

Proposal would focus South Loop neighborhood's development, boosters say

09/01/2011 6:10 PM

By Ben Meyerson

3 Comments - Add Your Comment

Motor Row
File 2011

Motor Row is one step closer to becoming Chicago’s newest entertainment district, after a city council committee unanimously approved a plan that supporters hope will turn the neighborhood into a bustling hub of music, food and other entertainment.

Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) pitched the plan, which he says will encourage more businesses to open in the area by changing the zoning along three blocks of South Michigan Avenue between Cermak Road and I-55. Chicago Journal first reported on the proposal in June.

Dotted with empty storefronts, the strip is mostly old auto dealer showrooms — spaces with big, empty windows that developers told the committee would be ideal for the entertainment venues Fioretti’s seeking.

The ordinance would do two things. First, it would widen the sidewalks and create a new streetscape, making it easier for businesses to have sidewalk cafes while simultaneously slowing down traffic around the businesses. Second, it would change the area’s zoning to a downtown district, effectively forcing any new developments in the area to be commercial — making it much more difficult to build condos or other residential buildings in the area.

One developer in the neighborhood, Pam Gleichmann, who owns several properties in Motor Row, said narrowing the uses ensures a vibrant area, and not a strip that’ll have a piecemeal approach.

“Showing there’s a commitment by the city that this be an entertainment district is important to the investors,” she said. “You can go through and ensure that there’ll be more than one or two places.”

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By Kathy from Motor Row
Posted: 09/09/2011 9:43 AM

We must have missed the community meeting on this? Was there one?

By jpeyton from west loop
Posted: 09/06/2011 9:38 AM

I think this is a fabulous idea. Having a vibrant "Chicago-style" entertainment district nestled between the City Center and McCormick place, close to the Museum Campus and within walking distance from the thousands of condos and townhomes already present in the South Loop makes great economic sense. It might also help to support property values in the overbuilt South Loop neighborhood. I hope they fast-track this project.

By Carol B. from Portland, OR
Posted: 09/02/2011 2:35 PM

Limiting condo development is the opposite approach we'd take in Portland; we like to walk to our entertainment. I invite you to come visit our Pearl District which has roots in the same era. We've mixed modern high-rise, living in a neighborhood close to this scale in an area that used to be warehouses and industrial. Really, Chicago, come see us.