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‘State of Loop’ report boasts Chicago Loop comeback already in full swing

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(The Center Square) – Loop Alliance President Michael Edwards is boldly shouting from the rooftops after a new “State of the Loop” quarterly report outlines how pedestrian activity on State Street during workweek hours is now back at pre-pandemic levels while weekend foot traffic is far outpacing 2019 numbers.

“People are coming back,” Edwards told The Center Square. “We’ve been recording key data points since the beginning of the pandemic to try to give our stakeholders, property owners, businesses and City Hall hard data on how The Loop is performing. They’re coming down into the evening and on weekends because as people get a little tired of working from home all week, they’re looking for something else to do.”

Over the first quarter of 2024, data gleaned from metrics that include pedestrian activity, retail vacancy, office and hotel occupancy and theater attendance shows that between the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., workweek foot traffic hits 91% of pre-pandemic levels while zooming to 107% of 2019 weekend numbers.

But even as the area begins to resemble its former self, Edwards is quick to point out you can’t help but notice all the change.

“It’s a different downtown and there’ll be different uses,” he said. “We’re still struggling with retail and empty storefronts. I think we’ll be more similar to what we were but a little bit different, more socializing, more theater, more arts, more culture and more people living in The Loop.”

Still, with Chicago being home to corporate relocations and JP Morgan Chase presently in the midst of renovating its local headquarters that is already home to more than 7,000 workers, Edwards emphasizes that certain sectors of the community will always be known for business.

“I do think people will eventually start coming back to working downtown,” he added. “Younger people that want to be mentored because they’re on a career track, I think those people will come back to work.”

Edwards adds Loop Alliance is now closely working with Chicago Police to make sure everyone who comes to the area will feel safe from crime once they arrive.

“It’s always an important issue that got a little out of hand after the pandemic and with the murder of George Floyd,” he said. “We’re not the police, but we’ve been working with the police department to make sure that we have the services that we need for a large American City. There’s a whole infrastructure designed to help people.”