Roosevelt retail boom

1,260 additional condos isn’t really news, not given the tens of thousands of units planned around town already, but a new 500,000 sq ft lifestyle center is noteworthy. Alby Gallun reports in Crain’s that Centrum Properties has purchased 11 acres of the “LaSalle Park” tract in the South Loop, which has had a tremendously generous PD (at least 2,500 units) attached to it for years, and has proposed lifestyle retail on the south and residential on the north. Other parts of LaSalle Park have been sold to D2 Realty and Terrapin for residential uses and to Target for its new Clark/Roosevelt store.

Combined with 320,000 sq ft at the Southgate Market mini-vertical mall and the approved 670,000 foot lifestyle component of Riverside Park, plus ~450,000 feet in existing big box retail (Dominick’s, Jewel, Home Depot, Target, State Place), that’s nearly two million square feet of retail between Wabash and Jefferson — more than half of it in vertical formats. (I don’t know if anyone tracks retail in the Clybourn corridor, but my estimate is closer to a million feet.) The city has long identified Roosevelt as a retail corridor good for big boxes, which makes sense given not only the growing local population but also its great accessibility from points further south and west.

However, I have serious doubts about whether that much vertical or lifestyle-format retail will work — or is desirable — less than a mile from State Street. More convenience retail is certainly desirable, but do Centrum and Harlem-Irving (the retail developers for the LaSalle and Riverside tracts. respectively) understand that leasing up >300,000 feet (with a rent schedule that will pay for the 30′ platform), with no direct transit, a mile from the Loop, is entirely different than leasing Riverside Park expire. Sign of the times?

Edit Feb 2007: This is completely cliché, but after visiting Portland’s Pearl and South Waterfront neighborhoods, I’m convinced. What this corridor needs is development oriented transit — a streetcar. At $20 million (the estimated figure to start a South Lake Union line in Seattle, home of the $200 million/mile LRT and $3.5B “light” tunnel, and a tiny fraction of the TIF subsidy ask from just Riverside Park), a mile-long Union Station-LaSalle Street Station-Riverside Park streetcar along Wells is a clearly worthy use of the Riverside South TIF. Indeed, it’s a far more worthy use of the TIF funds than further development subsidies, since it provides public infrastructure and a rationale for even higher density. It could also even link into a Clinton subway, er, West Loop Transportation Center.

2 thoughts on “Roosevelt retail boom

  1. Another streetcar example: a 2.4 mile, $63M streetcar restoration in Tampa has kicked off nearly $2B in property development with nearly 10,000 residents predicted — in spite of sinking ridership (just over 1,000 riders a day!) and mounting losses.

    “Streetcars are not designed to save time… They’re designed to change the way neighborhoods are built.” – Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.

  2. The Seattle Times fills in a few more numbers regarding South Lake Union:
    – Route length 1.3 miles
    – Construction cost $52 million
    – Operating cost $2.1 million
    – Farebox recovery ratio 14%
    – Headway 15 minutes
    – 1,000 trips/day projected for first year
    – “the point of the $52 million line never was to break even, but to promote housing density and business growth.”

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