Posted 8 months ago in Trending
4 MIN READ – Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) released its July report on downtown activity, using a variety of data sources to track operations during COVID-19, as it has done monthly since July 2020. The report tracks COVID-19 positivity rates, pedestrian activity, parking volumes, hotel occupancy, number of office workers on-site and more. The data this month indicates that hotel occupancy reached a record high for a third month, along with pedestrian rates closer to fully recovered; and continual progress in office occupancy and public transportation. View the full July report here.
The peak of summer means a rush of activity in the Loop, and various metrics of recovery continue to show promise. Hotel occupancy reached a new high of nearly 90 percent recovery rate, surpassing the previous record in May. The surplus of major programming like Lollapalooza and Sundays on State also invigorated the recovery of the Loop, with over 113,000 attendees at the first Sundays on State and over 100,000 attendees daily during Lollapalooza weekend. Along with vital progress in pedestrian activity and hotel occupancy, news of future developments to the recovery of the Loop abounded in July, with the purchase of the Thompson Center by Google, and the NASCAR deal beginning in 2023. Public events in July also encouraged public transportation. As summer culminates, we expect to see more office workers continue to plan their return, along with business travelers and students beginning fall courses at Loop universities.
“The Loop is seeing a lot of progress, from the continued return of pedestrians to State Street to the outstanding performance of Loop hotels, we are confident that the recovery in these key sectors will only trend upward,” said Michael Edwards, President and CEO of Chicago Loop Alliance. “As the recovery continues to accelerate, we are invested in finding long-term solutions for every sector, industry and person that makes the Loop community whole.”
After May’s record-breaking recovery milestone of 86.4 percent of 2019 room occupancy, June sets yet another milestone at 88.4 percent of 2019 levels. Summer travel continues to support rising room occupancy at Loop hotels despite concerns of COVID-19 and monkeypox. Downtown businesses, activities and events act as a beacon for tourism, therefore supporting increased Loop hotel room occupancy.
With an over 50 percent increase from summer of 2021, Chicago Loop hotels are expected to continue their trend towards a fully recovered sector in 2022.
Office occupancy in the Chicagoland area has reached a new high of 47.9 percent of 2019 levels for the week of July 18. Hovering just under 50 percent of the 2019 occupancy rate, office workers continue to trickle back to the office with flexible hybrid schedules. A vibrant Chicagoland area full of restaurants and bars; concerts and theatre; public amenities like the Chicago Riverwalk and lakefront; and major public events continue to increase the appeal of a return to downtown offices. Chicagoland’s office occupancy trend continues to be on par with other large metro areas such as New York City and Los Angeles.
Summer events like Sundays on State and Lollapalooza led to bustling pedestrian activity along State Street in the Loop at the end of July. The first Sundays on State saw a 26.5 percent increase in pedestrian activity along State Street in the Loop as compared to the previous Sunday, July 17, 2022. Meanwhile, the Sunday of Lollapalooza led to a 20.6 percent increase in pedestrian activity along State Street in the Loop as compared to that same Sunday of July 17. The presence of Sundays on State also led to a 44.7 percent increase in pedestrian activity compared to the same day in 2019 prior to COVID-19 lockdowns.
The CTA has not released June ridership data yet. However, CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. has stated that the agency is working to address inconsistent service, long wait times, and safety concerns across trains and buses. Ridership on the CTA has consistently shown an upward trend of recovery over this past summer. One major barrier to the agency’s recovery however is the lack of service consistency and concerns over safety. To address this, the CTA is planning to hire additional train and bus operators, fix outdated tracking technology and increase security on CTA platforms, and in trains and buses.
Metra has not yet released June data, however, summer trends in ridership hint at a continued recovery for the agency. Hybrid work schedules, summer time events and a vibrant Chicagoland area have encouraged increased Metra ridership. Lollapalooza at the end of July is also expected to reveal increased ridership of Metra trains safely transporting people from the Chicagoland suburbs to the Chicago Loop.
Parking reservations and garages
Parking in the Loop saw a slight downward trend in July. As the summer continues, warm temperatures and more in-person events may be driving people to utilize public transportation and various modes of micro-mobility such as bikes and e-scooters. These options offer cheaper and more flexible models of transportation that may be more attractive for residents, workers, and tourists in the summer months. However, parking still remains strong with occupancy rates above 80 percent for garages and above 100 percent for individual parking reservations as compared to 2019 levels.
For those Loop workers who continue to return downtown, Chicago Loop Alliance has created a Back to Office Toolkit that can be found at LoopChicago.com/BackToOffice. The toolkit includes insider tips for working downtown in the Loop for those who never left, as well as those who are returning or want to stay in the know. Find useful information on how to safely get downtown; what’s new in the Loop; what the Loop looks like these days; lunch and happy hour spots; and more.
Chicago Loop Alliance invites people to share their experiences downtown on social media using #BackInTheLoop.
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