Wednesday, March 18, 2009

'Loop U' Helps the South Loop

The Chicago Tribune had a story today talking about the relatively recent expansion of many downtown college campuses, which they called "Loop U". For those of us in the South Loop (particularly north of Roosevelt) it's impossible not to notice the influx of students around the area:
A sprawling urban campus has taken hold in the Loop and South Loop, with close to 60,000 students from 20 institutions of higher learning inhabiting a slice of downtown Chicago and making a significant economic impact.

"Loop U," as boosters call it, encompasses 1.65 square miles bounded by the Chicago River, Wacker Drive, Roosevelt Road and the Lakefront and includes students from Columbia College Chicago and the Loop campuses of DePaul and Roosevelt Universities. In the last two years, businesses that cater to students have proliferated, especially coffee houses, burger joints and bars.

For real estate developers this must seem like a godsend as well. As it has been well documented, the South Loop (and loop) was one of the fastest growing areas of the city during the boom. As things slowed down, naturally inventory in the South Loop began to sit vacant. Luckily for many developers (and owners), they found a market for renters with these college students. Realize that the demand still hasn't caught up to the supply, but without these 'college student' renters our guess is that the area would be in worse shape.

Although the article also talks about the problems students bring (for example they cite an infuse of cigarette butts), we welcome them with open arms. In our opinion they bring a energetic, artistic and youthful presence to the neighborhood.

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