Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Higher Education Update: Spending and More Development

It has been interesting to watch and read about the evolution of higher education in the Loop and South Loop.  It's impossible not to notice the youthful energy of students walking to class or hanging out on State, Wabash and Michigan avenue (to name a few places).

Although some residents have voiced displeasure with the growth around these universities and colleges, we feel that they're good for the neighborhood in various ways.  One way that was recently validated by a report commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance was spending:
Twenty-four higher education institutions in Chicago’s Loop, through their employees, students and own expenditures, generate more than $4 billion in regional economic activity annually, including at least $60 million in student retail purchases, according to the 2009 Higher Education Economic Impact Report and Student Survey Update released Nov. 23.

Commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance ( CLA ), with student survey data compiled by researchers at DePaul, the study shows that the Loop’s higher education sector is a vital economic engine that contributes to the growth and overall health of the economy in the Chicago region. The findings update and expand upon research released by CLA last June and in 2004.
Although this area was defined as the Chicago River on the north and west, the study also includes parts of the South Loop as it extends south to Roosevelt and east to Lake Shore Drive.  Love them or hate them, students are an important part of our neighborhood.  Without them our retail situation would most certainly be different (and probably much worse).

With that in mind it's a good sign that Roosevelt University just announced that it will move forward with a new tower on the 400 block of South Wabash Avenue (see old Sloopin post on this subject).  The building will serve a variety of purposes for the University and is currently planned to open in 2012.  This is a block north of what we consider the Sloop, but regardless it will still impact the area:

Officials at Roosevelt University are moving forward with a plan to build what they say would be the second-tallest university building in the nation.

Construction on the 32-story, $110 million building is set to begin in February on the site of the old Herman Crown Center in the 400 block of South Wabash Avenue. The groundbreaking will begin once demolition of the old building is complete, with the center itself slated to open in January 2012, officials said.

The state-of-the-art building, which will house classrooms, laboratories, a student recreation center and residence suites for more than 600 students, will be the university's first newly constructed building in the school's history, officials said. 

The 469-foot-tall building will also be constructed as a "green" building and showcase a glass exterior on three sides, drawing in natural light and cutting energy costs. The new building, school officials said, would be the sixth-largest university building in the world and second in the U.S. behind the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning.
It's definitely an interesting building.

In other higher education development, Columbia College's media production center (at 16th and State) looks to be  nearing completion.  Although we don't have a picture of the actual site, you will have to take our word for it...it's also an interesting building.  Here is a sketch of how it is supposed to look.  Although we didn't see it illuminated like the picture below, it looks very similar in our opinion:


For more on this building, here is another old Sloopin post.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

In regards to how school affects a neighborhood... One word: DePaul! If it wasn't for us for DePaul Demons, Lincoln Park would still be a crap hole. When I was a wee boy, my classes at the university took place in old buildings. Now students have nice-ass buildings (with plans for more new ones) and a new nice ass EL stop. If Columbia College continues to build nice small buildings like the "Media Production Studio" on State/16th, Columbia will be our "DePaul". The studio already lights up State/16th like a Christmas tree with its bright interior lighting.

Dick said...

I'm pleased that there's a blog dedicated to the South Loop; I'm not so pleased about the relentless agitprop--the boosterism for the Olympics being just one example. But it is your blog, and you've a right to state your vision of the neiborhood.

Still, I think you can retain your optimism while retaining some critical viewpoint. I note the exerpt from a recent entry:

"Twenty-four higher education institutions in Chicago’s Loop, through their employees, students and own expenditures, generate more than $4 billion in regional economic activity annually..."

Let's stop and look at that for a moment. Let's use the highest estimate I've seen for the student population in the South Loop, around 50,000. That works out to $80,000 PER STUDENT. Even assuming high economic multipliers and ripple through effects, there's just no way that that level of economic activity is going on, even assuming the overly-high student population of 50,000 (that figure likely includes part-time students, evening classes for those not pursuing a degree or a certificate--a population clearly generating much less than $80,000 per student in economic activity).

Granted, it's an extract from somone else's press release, but that's my point: you do a disservice to the neighborhood by restating these things uncritically--a lot of the stuff comes straight from the mayor's office or out of corporate concerns. It's pure spin, and reading it uncritically is unhelpful.

Richard said...

Regional economic activity can include construction, retail expenditures (specifically called out in the blurb), salaries for employees, and tax revenue generated, to name only a few.

Anonymous said...

I think it's great that the student population in the sloop is growing. Just so long as the frat boy and trixie crowds stay in lincoln park.

Anonymous said...

The previous post was racist and should be removed.

FGFM said...

Yes, I'm concerned about offending the frat boy and trixie races. Yeesh.

FGFM said...

In regards to how school affects a neighborhood... One word: DePaul! If it wasn't for us for DePaul Demons, Lincoln Park would still be a crap hole.

You are delusional. I grew up in Lincoln Park and the area east of Halsted was gentrified long before the DePaul area was fixed up. "nice ass" or otherwise.

If Columbia College continues to build nice small buildings like the "Media Production Studio" on State/16th, Columbia will be our "DePaul".

Is that why all those businesses went under along that strip?

Anonymous said...

Why so negative, FGFM? I'm not delusional, you're delusional as you work for acorn and Jesus loves you too. You mean to tell me that DePaul had nothing to do with LP's neighborhood success? Please elaborate.

The Media Production Center isn't even open yet, so your reasoning of business going down as a result of Columbia creating buildings are nonsense. We frat boyz, hip hop junkies, trixies, yuppies, homeless freaks are taking ova ya hood!

Anonymous said...

The media facility @ 16th and State looks quite cool. I hope some "student focused retail," i.e. coffee house or bookstore, opens in the vacant space across the street.

Also, does anyone know of any plans to fix the streets, sidewalks, and/or landscape on State Street south of Roosevelt? That stretch of streetscape is horrendous.

Anonymous said...

"Also, does anyone know of any plans to fix the streets, sidewalks, and/or landscape on State Street south of Roosevelt? That stretch of streetscape is horrendous."

With City budgets being what they are, I'd venture to guess that these types of improvements will be put off for awhile . . . unless some of those elusive TIF funds get freed up.

Anonymous said...

Why fix that stretch of Wabash north of Roosevelt but ignore State Street south of Roosevelt (which is in far worse condition than Wabash was in prior to those improvements)?

FGFM said...

you're delusional as you work for acorn

Hilarious, you are too stupid to realize that I put that URL in there to mock you. Who is delusional now?

You mean to tell me that DePaul had nothing to do with LP's neighborhood success? Please elaborate.

I'm saying that the guy had it backwards. I grew up in Lincoln Park and it was gentrified east of Halsted/Lincoln before he was born.

Anonymous said...

East of Halsted and Linclon is also where all the attacks on innocent white people by gangs of roving blacks took place last summer. Thank you gentrification!!

Carl said...

It believe it was Federal Stimulus funds that paid for fixing that stretch of Wabash north of Roosevelt.

I'm sure Daley's magical 2010 budget will take care of everything.

Anonymous said...

It's also funny how quickly that "situation" went away once the attacks stopped.

Can you imagine if this was the other way around? If groups of white youth had ventured into predominately black neighborhoods and were attacking people at random with baseball bats, crobars, etc.?

Mary Mitchell would still be writing three articles a week about this; Bobby Rush and his other "leaders" of the community would be bringing this up during every campaign stop, jesse jackson and other "reverands" would be screaming about it from their soap boxes every week.

Anonymous said...

Anyone in favor of more commercial offerings in the neighborhood (aren't we all anxious to see the enormous amount of vacant storefronts dwindle?), should be pulling for the south loop to become more "college-student friendly."

Everywhere college students live/work/play/study, sees a significant uptick in commercial. We don't have to look too far for an example, see Halsted Street near UIC. That area started to boom around the same time as the south loop. However, there is a huge difference in the amount of commercial offerings along Halsted versus, for example, Motor Row.