Chicago Loop Alliance announces final Transforming Wabash Report
Chicago Loop Alliance just announced its final Transforming Wabash Report, a series of short- and long-term projects to promote and strengthen the historic Wabash Avenue district downtown. The Report is the result of a yearlong series of planning charrettes involving over 100 of Chicago’s business, civic and cultural leaders with a stake in revitalizing Wabash Avenue and making the district more economically competitive.
The Report’s project recommendations—which are grouped into the categories District, Pedestrian, Transportation, Lighting and Economic Development—range from a new lighting feature emanating from the forthcoming Washington/Wabash ‘L’ station to enhanced planters and pedestrian space along Wabash Avenue.
CLA is currently in discussion with potential partners about programming and fundraising related to each of the Report’s short-term recommendations. The following initiatives are in motion:
- Pedestrian: CLA has begun providing cleaning and safety services, via its Clean Team and Street Team Ambassador programs, to Wabash Avenue-facing buildings within the Special Service Area (SSA) #1 footprint from Adams to Randolph Streets. Enhanced planters and beautification services within this same area will follow this spring.
- Transportation: CLA will organize and coordinate construction mitigation services on behalf of Wabash Avenue merchants and coordinate with CDOT on the BRT and Washington/Wabash ‘L’ station construction projects, serving as a liaison and providing updates to ensure business is interrupted as little as possible throughout the project.
- District: CLA has begun discussions with hotel and nightlife partners to brand and enhance the northern end of Wabash Avenue, where the new Virgin Hotel and other boutique properties and bars are located. Goals will include highlighting these already existing amenities and encouraging further development as part of a “Hotel/Nightlife District.”
Overarching goals of the projects outlined in the Transforming Wabash Report include: utilizing the distinct Wabash districts to advance economic development, and organize investment on Wabash Avenue; making Wabash an interesting, pleasant and safe place to be a pedestrian by maintaining a clean, enlivened streetscape, and improving the east-west connections to draw people in from surrounding attractions; improving Wabash Avenue for all transportation modes; installing spectacular lighting along Wabash to highlight the new Washington/Wabash ‘L’ station, intersections, historic facades and the ‘L’ tracks; and utilizing physical improvements to Wabash as a catalyst for spurring economic development.
(Rendering: Chicago Loop Alliance / Gensler; Photo: Deirdre Hayes)