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Old Posted Jun 18, 2006, 11:49 AM
Frankie Frankie is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2006
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From this weeks crain's

Residents bring later Loop hours
By Darci Smith

Condo dwellers and tourists heading to Millennium Park are helping prompt changes that make downtown a little friendlier after 5.
Business and cultural centers are trying to meet the demands of the Loop's expanding residential population by extending hours, says Ty Tabing, executive director of the Chicago Loop Alliance. "Percentage-wise, the Loop is the fastest-growing residential neighborhood in the city," he says. "In the past it's been more of a 9-to-5 community."

To find out just how many people now call the neighborhood home, the Chicago Loop Alliance recently funded a study of the neighborhood's various demographics, including residential, business and theater. The study should be completed by summer's end.

When Kim Gray moved to the South Loop last summer from Old Irving Park, she found few after-hours shopping prospects beyond grocery stores and the South Loop Target. "I go back to my old neighborhood to do shopping," says Ms. Gray, 29.

But changes are coming.

The Loop's resurgence prompted extended hours at the Art Institute of Chicago, which will be open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays during the summer. Evening admission is free on Thursdays year-round and Fridays through Labor Day.

Daytime free hours "fell right in the middle of the workday" and weren't benefiting Chicagoans, says Erin Hogan, director of public affairs. The hope is that downtown residents will pop in after work or before heading to evening activities in Millennium Park or Grant Park. "There's a real desire on our part to take part in the revitalized area," she adds.

Water Tower Place, too, has begun summer hours: Stores are open till 9 p.m. on weekdays. "We want to be accessible to everybody, no matter what their schedules are," says a Marshall Field's spokeswoman. "It's really giving the customer what she wants."
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