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Loop pedestrian traffic and activity across multiple sectors continue to accelerate post-pandemic

Posted  11 months ago

Press contact: Ariella Gibson | Marketing and Communications Manager, Chicago Loop Alliance | Ariella@ChicagoLoopAlliance.com | 708-543-4002

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CHICAGO—Today, Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) released its State of the Loop report for Q1 2023 on downtown activity, using a variety of data sources, in an updated condensed format to previous operations recovery reports, which the organization has produced since July 2020. The report tracks pedestrian activity, parking volumes, hotel occupancy, office workers on-site, arts and culture, investment, and more. Initiatives like Chicago Theatre Week played a key role in boosting metrics during the winter months; while CLA’s Loop Residential Impact Study Report uncovered that the Loop population grew by 10 percent throughout the pandemic; and LaSalle Reimagined provided hope for a key downtown corridor. View the Q1 (Jan.-Mar.) report here.

“The new year brought much excitement and activity to the Loop,” said Michael Edwards, President and CEO of Chicago Loop Alliance. “Pedestrian impressions, coupled with parking and hotel occupancy revealed a strong start to the new year with a flurry of activity around St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Already surpassing the last two years, activity across all sectors signifies a strong and hopeful start to 2023 in the Loop.”

Pedestrian impressions on State Street in the Loop were 120% higher than the same period in 2021.

Arts and Culture
The Loop was alive with arts and culture in the first quarter of 2023 with over 800,000 people enjoying theatre performances, music, concerts, cultural attractions, and special events. The success of arts and culture is due in large part to initiatives like Chicago Theatre Week. The economic impact of arts and culture in the Loop is over $200 million.

Attendance at the Chicago Cultural Center increased by 50% over January–March of last year and the City of Chicago saw a bump in skaters at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink during its 2022-2023 season. 

“DCASE attributes this rebound in attendance at our historic Chicago Cultural Center and iconic Millennium Park ice rink to an uptick in downtown activity overall as well as more arts programming presented by us and others across the Loop,” said Jamey Lundblad, Deputy Commissioner for Marketing and Development of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Average occupancy rate for January and February of 2023 nearly doubled from 2022 and nearly tripled from 2021. Citywide hotel occupancy for the week ending on 3/25 increased 7% from 2019 levels.

Metra saw ridership at 2.2 million passenger trips in January 2023, more than double the number of trips in January 2022. February 2023 was close behind with 2.1 million Metra trips. Upon release of this report, CTA has not released ridership data since December 2022.

Investment and Retail
In exciting news for the future of the Loop, Chicago City Council approved a $5 million fund to assist small businesses redevelop vacant storefronts along the LaSalle Street corridor. Unanimously passed in January, the fund pays special attention to creating a mixed-use LaSalle Street. In addition, $550 million has been committed to downtown adaptive re-use projects with a percentage dedicated to affordable housing through the LaSalle Street Reimagined Initiative.

Chicago office occupancy leads the way for major US cities outside of Texas, trailing behind Dallas by less than one percentage point on Chicago’s most occupied day of the week during the last week of March. Anecdotally, occupancy is higher than reported averages as hybrid schedules reveal most office workers are back in the office, but at a reduced capacity.

Parking in the Loop reflects a bustling and active downtown as parking rates remain well above 2019 levels. The highest recovery rate measured in Q1 was 179% of 2019 levels. This coincided with St. Patrick’s Day festivities in the Loop. Parking rates for quarter one were 21% higher than the same period in 2022. St. Patrick’s celebrations specifically were 11% higher than the same week in 2022. Parking plus CTA and Metra data reveal more people came to the Loop for the holiday.

Chicago Loop Alliance released an in-depth residential study in February with encouraging news about the Loop residential community. The roughly 60-page report shows the Loop population continued to grow throughout the pandemic with an estimated population gain of more than 4,000 residents since the 2020 census. Read the full Loop Residential Impact Study here.

About Chicago Loop Alliance
Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA)’s mission is to create, manage and promote positive and inclusive programs that attract people to the Loop and accelerate economic recovery. CLA is a membership organization as well as the sole service provider for Special Service Area#1-2015, and the Chicago Loop Alliance Foundation produces public art projects and events. For more information, please visit here.


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