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  #48101  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2021, 2:52 PM
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Mag Mile has, as long as I've been alive, the major draw of foot traffic to downtown north of the river. It's definitely going to have to redefine itself in the post Covid, Jeff Bezos oligarchy world. I have no idea what kinds of stores will go there, but I can't help but wonder if there is a bit too much optimism for "experience retail". I mean, how much demand will there be in extant flagship retail space for such a thing?
It needs to be completely reimagined beyond retail. Some flagships, sure, but it needs to be remade into a pedestrian mall. Two lanes of traffic, dedicated bus lanes, bike lanes, and lots and lots of space for pedestrians, landscaping, and sidewalk cafes. Also create a big pedestrian plaza near the Water Tower where the city can have events. But that would take bold, progressive action so it won't happen. Probably a few small art installations and new streetlight banners with a fresh new "Mag Mile" logo.
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  #48102  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2021, 3:14 PM
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^ This idea that a bunch of city planners are going to save the Mag Mile is flawed, IMO

Mag Mile’s challenges have absolutely nothing to do with its street and sidewalk design. Let’s not blow taxpayer money away on such major redesigns when we know that the real issue is changing consumer behavior.

We don’t need another State St Ped mall disaster
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  #48103  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2021, 3:21 PM
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^ This idea that a bunch of city planners are going to save the Mag Mile is flawed, IMO

Mag Mile’s challenges have absolutely nothing to do with its street and sidewalk design. Let’s not blow taxpayer money away on such major redesigns when we know that the real issue is changing consumer behavior.

We don’t need another State St Ped mall disaster
Fair enough, but the idea that consumers are going to save the Mag Mile is flawed, IMO.

Retail at the scale it would take to make the Mag Mile a destination is dead. We know this. The writing has been on the wall for over a decade. There are only so many giant Starbucks that can fit in a 5 block stretch. There are two viable options from where we sit right now--completely redesign the street to become a draw to the central tourist area of the city or allow it to devolve into just another retail strip of Kohl's, Homegoods and Target. The middle path barely exists now, let alone in 10 years; and as you said yourself, the real premium shopping is centralizing around Rush/Oak.

People don't want to Instagram themselves in front of Chicago's biggest discount baby clothing store or whatever, and Instagram is what drives tourism now. Make the Mag Mile actually feel magnificent.
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  #48104  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2021, 3:31 PM
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^ Things like bus only lanes are more of an urbanist's pet project than anything else. They do not practically solve a problem for building owners on the Mag Mile. Nobody on the Mag Mile is upset because people can't get to the Mag Mile. That's never been a problem.

The entities that own property in and around the Mag Mile will need to state what it is, if anything, they need from the city. Sounds like they want more security after that crap that occurred last summer ( still furious about that) and assurances that roving bands of looters won't smash windows en masse again.

Second, they need to figure out what kind of commercial space can and will pay the rent. I definitely don't think they care about bus lanes, and the sidewalks are already wide enough on the Mag Mile--in fact, they are gorgeous!

But you and I are in agreement on one thing--"experiential retail" is probably not going to be enough
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  #48105  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2021, 4:40 PM
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^ Things like bus only lanes are more of an urbanist's pet project than anything else. They do not practically solve a problem for building owners on the Mag Mile. Nobody on the Mag Mile is upset because people can't get to the Mag Mile. That's never been a problem.

The entities that own property in and around the Mag Mile will need to state what it is, if anything, they need from the city. Sounds like they want more security after that crap that occurred last summer ( still furious about that) and assurances that roving bands of looters won't smash windows en masse again.

Second, they need to figure out what kind of commercial space can and will pay the rent. I definitely don't think they care about bus lanes, and the sidewalks are already wide enough on the Mag Mile--in fact, they are gorgeous!

But you and I are in agreement on one thing--"experiential retail" is probably not going to be enough
I think they're gonna have to pivot away from a tourism orientation as tourism to big cities will be depressed for years to come. That probably means converting some hotels to efficiency residential (maybe in such a way that they can be converted back to hotel in 5-6 years). As for the retail... I don't know what can possibly compete with flagship retail for rent/SF, so the owners of those buildings have a problem. Any conceivable reuse will mean a significant drop in income. But retail faces structural issues beyond the temporary Covid problem (online shopping mainly) so I don't think the retail landlords are just gonna hold out for better times, they're gonna have to adapt.

The city can help this to some extent with a 5-year or 10-year tax abatement to soften the blow and make it easier for owners to repurpose. Maybe you can tie the tax break to an income restriction on any new apartments to 120% AMI to get more middle-income people to live downtown and make it less of a rich person's playground.

I do think bus lanes on Michigan are important, although maybe not a complete pedestrianization. Michigan is already a major bus corridor so a dedicated lane would benefit thousands of existing commuters. And a pivot away from tourists means a pivot towards locals, who need to get in/out of that district without relying on expensive taxis like tourists do. A frequent circulator bus route would also help local residents by improving access to groceries, amenities, and rail stations without a long walk.
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  #48106  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2021, 5:55 PM
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
^ This idea that a bunch of city planners are going to save the Mag Mile is flawed, IMO

Mag Mile’s challenges have absolutely nothing to do with its street and sidewalk design. Let’s not blow taxpayer money away on such major redesigns when we know that the real issue is changing consumer behavior.

We don’t need another State St Ped mall disaster
I always had a dream that it would become more of a promenade, maybe like Champs les Elysees or something. Ground-floor spaces could be taken over by restaurants and cafes, and the terminus at the north could be reconfigured to finally make a proper connection to the lakefront (in conjunction with the current plan to revitalize Oak Street Beach).
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  #48107  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2021, 8:14 PM
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I always had a dream that it would become more of a promenade, maybe like Champs les Elysees or something. Ground-floor spaces could be taken over by restaurants and cafes, and the terminus at the north could be reconfigured to finally make a proper connection to the lakefront (in conjunction with the current plan to revitalize Oak Street Beach).
Well even the Champs has traffic, even though they plan to put it on a massive road diet in the near future it will still have traffic.

I'd imagine it's rather impractical to completely close off Michigan into a ped mall but some street calming, road diets and bus lanes maybe could be done? I'd agree that trying to set up trying to maximize the street to cafe/restaurant life may be the best bet.
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  #48108  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2021, 8:23 PM
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^ The bustle of the Mag Mile, and yes.....even with cars.....was always alluring to me. I think it strikes the right balance already with the landscaped median and the huge, heavily landscaped sidewalks.

If there is a street that needs redoing, it's State St through the Loop. It would benefit immensely from a nicely landscaped median.
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  #48109  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2021, 10:13 PM
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  #48110  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2021, 11:47 PM
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The emerging consensus is that the pedestrian malls in US cities happened to be installed in a time when urban cores were in free-fall. They were pitched as a way to revive downtowns, but they were not nearly enough to offset the cataclysmic amounts of money pouring into freeways, suburban sprawl and urban renewal/demolitions all over the country - as a downtown growth strategy, pedestrian malls were like pissing into a hurricane.

Downtowns struggled (retail vacancy, crime, abandonment) with or without the pedestrian malls, it's mostly a coincidence. And since urban planning in the US is so prone to fads, lots of cities faced the exact same situation at the same time. Then in the 1990s when cities started to turn around, they got money to rip out the pedestrian malls. Another coincidence, they probably would have revived anyway. The few cities that hung onto their malls are thriving, IF the surrounding city is healthy and usually when the surrounding blocks were not hollowed out by urban renewal. Fulton Mall in Brooklyn, Charlottesville, Boulder, Santa Monica, etc. The one in Denver is arguably successful despite the homeless issue.

If Chicago had refurbished the State St mall in the 90s it would probably be a huge success. There is an argument to be made that the details of the modernist design by SOM were a little cold and sterile. It's also worth noting that buses got a lot cleaner, so the frequent complaint of "bus fumes in the State St mall" would have solved itself in time. Also virtually every American city fails at the challenge of homelessness, so eliminating pedestrian malls just shifts them somewhere else - it's not and never was a real solution.
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  #48111  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2021, 12:11 AM
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I mean, these all work quite well:

Madison
Denver
Boulder
Burlington
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  #48112  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2021, 12:54 AM
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I mean, these all work quite well:

Madison
Denver
Boulder
Burlington
I could swear I remember them tearing out Madison's ( Wi ) in the '80s .
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  #48113  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2021, 1:10 AM
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I could swear I remember them tearing out Madison's ( Wi ) in the '80s .
State St. in Madison is bus only between the Capitol and the University. It's possible they tore it out and reinstated it?
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  #48114  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2021, 1:26 AM
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State St. in Madison is bus only between the Capitol and the University. It's possible they tore it out and reinstated it?
I think so - what a street - some epic Halloweens.
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  #48115  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2021, 3:51 PM
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Regarding Michigan Ave: as an above poster pointed out retail's decline is all about changing consumer behavior. The behavior changed because for 20 years most internet retail went untaxed and a lot is still untaxed or at a lower rate than a fixed in place brick and mortar location. Amazon is only what it is today because it's been subsidized mightily by years of losses offset by more investment capital, low to no internet taxes and municipalities racing to the bottom to give them tax breaks or freebies to locate DCs. And it's not just Amazon. What the physical world needs is a level playing field. I'd propose taxing the internet retailers and letting brick and mortar be tax free, make Michigan Ave a retail property tax free zone, hell maybe even sales tax reduction for physical too and allow all the budding designers and young merchants that could be get a toe hold in the world, maybe a Water Tower Place with many many small independent designer shops would be far more interesting than a giant Macys. Delivery trucks are clogging my streets all day well into the night, boxes are being stolen and discarded up and down my street, on garbage day theres piles and piles of cardboard alongside the trash bin. Those are costs the physical world has to pay. Physical retail is what makes a city a city. E-Commerce is not pulling it's weight while simultaneously destroying cities and needs to be brought to terms and taxation is the answer. No more free rides.
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  #48116  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2021, 5:31 PM
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Plan Commission approves a 99-unit mixed-income, mixed-use building at 4308 S. Calumet in #Bronzeville. The 10-story, transit-oriented development known as #43Green will include 50 affordable units, 49 market-rate units, and 24 parking spaces. #INVESTSouthWest




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  #48117  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2021, 5:50 PM
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the sidewalks are already wide enough on the Mag Mile
No, they are not.
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  #48118  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2021, 5:51 PM
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Well even the Champs has traffic, even though they plan to put it on a massive road diet in the near future it will still have traffic.

I'd imagine it's rather impractical to completely close off Michigan into a ped mall but some street calming, road diets and bus lanes maybe could be done? I'd agree that trying to set up trying to maximize the street to cafe/restaurant life may be the best bet.
Yeah, not close it off to car traffic but take up more of the street and add in a good buffer of trees (and something 'softer' like crushed granite rather than concrete or asphalt). Champs has maybe a 2:3:2 ratio of pedestrian to car traffic allotment of its width (just looking at it from above in Google maps satellite view).
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  #48119  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2021, 6:13 PM
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Yeah, not close it off to car traffic but take up more of the street and add in a good buffer of trees (and something 'softer' like crushed granite rather than concrete or asphalt). Champs has maybe a 2:3:2 ratio of pedestrian to car traffic allotment of its width (just looking at it from above in Google maps satellite view).
don't forget the silly number of ambulances that use michigan ave every day to get to northwestern hospital campus.
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  #48120  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2021, 7:14 PM
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Plan Commission approves a 99-unit mixed-income, mixed-use building at 4308 S. Calumet in #Bronzeville. The 10-story, transit-oriented development known as #43Green will include 50 affordable units, 49 market-rate units, and 24 parking spaces. #INVESTSouthWest
Been waiting for this one's approval. Glad that the newer revision includes murals along the base
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