Tuesday, May 17, 2011

South Loop Restaurant Scene Mentioned as a Negative Legacy Mayor Daley Leaves Behind

With Mayor Daley officially out of office, many publications and news sources have been spending time dissecting his legacy on a variety of areas. We recently did a post about his legacy on architecture and design around the city and specifically the South Loop, and yesterday we found an interesting post by the blog Chicagoist talking about his legacy from a food perspective.

In this post, the blog calls one of the "darker sides" to his legacy was the pace of residential growth and the ramifications on local restaurants and retail. They used the South Loop to illustrate this point:

At the same time, the development during Daley's reign had a dark side. The renovated buildings and high-income communities that allowed $40 per plate restaurants to exist often drove out small, locally-owned business. Sometimes,
as in the case of the South Loop, development was done so fast that it backfired. When the goal was simply to draw in as many wealthy people as possible, whatever the consequences, neighborhoods often ended up without retail or dining for long stretches of time - the South Loop still struggles to attract and keep restaurants.

Although the paragraph seems to be on-point in some areas, it's ironic that last week we had a post quoting a story in the Red-Eye (via Metromix) saying that the "South Loop is on the verge of an eatery expansion" (see post here). The fact of the matter is that the South Loop has had spotty restaurants and retail in the past.

For every successful restaurant there seems to be two that struggle. Obviously this is a shortsighted view and in our opinion is natural for any neighborhood in transition. Let's remember that much of the growth in the South Loop was as a result of the housing bubble. The corresponding recession has definitely had a huge affect on the retail and restaurant scene in the neighborhood (and we're not the only neighborhood who has had similar issues).

In three or five years (or maybe ten years if you're being pessimistic) we will see if this growth really "back-fired" as the post indicates. There are signs that the retail and restaurant scene in the South Loop is picking up. Only time will tell if Daley's "food legacy" in the South Loop is shortsighted or in fact visionary.

Sometimes we feel that the vision for the South Loop came from the movie Field of Dreams..."If you build it, he will come".

It's built, let's just hope he (the restaurants and retail) will continue to come.


Anonymous said...

The Chicagoist article does not speculate as to the going-forward restaurant scene in the Sloop. Everything that was said was backward looking, and accurate.

Any update on Lexington Park? Lights in 10-20 condos appear to be on each night.

-A south looper

Anonymous said...

Anyone who lived in any other neighborhood in the city prior to moving to the sloop knows that this article hit the nail right on the head. Talk about stating the obvious! Unfortunately, the "high end residences" in the sloop are now deteriorating (via rental conversions, cheap construction, etc.) as well. Moreover, our infrastructure continues to take a beating (state street south of Roosevelt is ridiculous!) and is in dire need of repair.

Little retail and commercial options, mixed with poor-quality housing, mixed with crumbling infrastructure is a lethal combination.

Anonymous said...

Lexington Park is moving forward (I'm working as a contractor on it). Not sure on timeline, but the interior buildout has been contracted and I was there yesterday. Looks pretty torn up from the flooding, but construction should start soon!

Anonymous said...

Another restaurant is slated to open at the burnt out building just North of Bongo room (1150 S Wabash, I believe). A new three story building will be going up in place of the old one, two floors of restaurant and the third floor will be studio apartments for Columbia students.

Anonymous said...

"Unfortunately, the "high end residences" in the sloop are now deteriorating (via rental conversions, cheap construction, etc.) as well."

I'm condo shopping right now and have been in most towers in the sloop and I don't see any evidence of this. Yes, some buildings have over 50% renters, but everything I've seen has been taken care of very well with no major construction issues.

Doom and gloom all you want, but imo this hood is getting better every year.