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Retail vacancies soar on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile

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(The Center Square) – The number of empty storefronts is growing on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.

Local firms say Chicago’s premier shopping district has a retail vacancy rate of about 30%. Magnificent Mile Association President and CEO Kimberly Bares admits Michigan Avenue is dealing with challenges.

“Perception of crime, work-from-home trends and retail vacancies have given us, we would say, more than our share of challenges. Yet we very much believe we are experiencing a district on the rise,” Bares said.

According to the Mag Mile Association, the area still tops the Midwest in tourism and remains crucial to the economy.

“Twenty-one percent of the jobs that are in the city of Chicago are in our district, and those jobs are especially important for a variety of reasons. Number one, they are mostly in person,” Bares said.

Bares added that the Mag Mile Association’s top priorities are safety and security, as well as retail vacancy.

Business leaders are looking for downtown shopping to bounce back, after years of critics saying that Chicago’s neighborhoods suffered at the expense of downtown.

Bares said the divide between the neighborhoods and downtown is a myth.

“What’s good for downtown can be good for the neighborhoods. What’s good for the neighborhoods can be good for downtown,” Bares said.

Some neighborhood districts have flourished while the retail vacancy rate on the Magnificent Mile hit 30%, and the Loop’s vacancy rate is over 20%. Mid America Real Estate principal Stan Nitzberg said neighborhoods that are busy now could also experience downturns.

“We have to be cognizant of the strength of some of the neighborhoods, but what’ll happen in those neighborhoods is that the rents will get to a point against the productivity where that’ll cycle, too,” Nitzberg said.