However, besides looking around or heading to Chinatown, there aren't many reasons to go south to Cermak (obviously there are some restaurants and businesses, but there definitely isn't a critical mass).
This area is also home to the historic Motor Row district, which back in the early 1900s was were many peeps in the city came to shop for cars (for more info check wikipedia here). If you go down Michigan Avenue south of Cermak you can see some of the old buildings with huge glass windows that use to showcase the cars. Obviously this isn't the case anymore, but in the recent years there was a push to turn this area into a "entertainment district".
What does this mean, well we're not exactly sure. We presume it's means special zoning to encourage a certain type of business/building, but it's not clear to us. Although this has been the talk of the neighborhood for awhile, not much progress has been made (probably due to the recession and housing buble).
However, the Chicago Journal recently had some stories about Alderman Fioretti's intentions to focus on this district again:
On South Michigan Avenue, high rises rule. Towering glass and steel monoliths line the street from downtown all the way to Cermak Road.
But crossing Cermak, the streetscape suddenly changes. All of a sudden, every building is low-slung, and big pane glass windows dominate, framed by ornate moldings.Welcome to Motor Row.
Built during the auto industry's boom years in the early 20th century, car dealerships lined the three blocks from Cermak to the Stevenson Expressway. Today, the neighborhood is quiet and largely residential, with a few businesses.
Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) aims to change that, turning the strip into a de facto entertainment district on the edge of the South Loop. To get it done, he's pitching a change in city council that would turn the zoning from a mixed-use district to a downtown service district.
Sounds good to us and hopefully he can get some momentum going. Interestingly enough, the Chicago Journal had another article on the topic yesterday saying a brewery is planning on opening up shop in Motor Row:
The Near South Side’s first microbrewery could be on the way, one of the first major businesses moving in as part of the push to revive Motor Row on South Michigan Avenue.
Bob Lassandrello of Hinsdale, a trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, is leading the charge to bring in the brewery. He bought the two buildings at 2335 and 2337 S. Michigan Ave. with a group of other investors right after the real estate market crash, and he’s hoping to finally make something of the space.
This would be amazing news for the area and truly bring more attention and presumably more pedestrian traffic to the stretch. Our only concern is that the initial plans for the brewery are to only produce beer and not have a bar/food. Not sure it would be much of a destination if you can only see the machines and taste the beer, but it's progress nonetheless. The bar/food might be the second phase according to the article, we hope it's included in the first.
Regardless, it would be great to see an anchor business come to this stretch and would definitely help the area develop. It's also refreshing to hear that the alderman's sights are focused on this area again.