Mapping the West Loop’s unprecedented development boom

In the distance, four construction cranes tower over buildings and work sites that surround a park in winter with brown grass and a cloudy sky.

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The downtown neighborhood is a forest of construction cranes

Long gone is the domain of family-owned meatpackers and warehouses in Chicago’s West Loop and Fulton Market District. Now it’s one of the busiest areas for new development in the city, teeming with Michelin-starred restaurants, trendy hotels, and offices for Google and McDonald’s.

The neighborhood west of the Kennedy Expressway isn’t just Restaurant Row anymore, but an extension of the central business district and a major economic powerhouse for the entire city. So naturally, developers want in and an unprecedented influx of construction cranes are working to keep up.

The rapid pace of development has not been without growing pains. Some residents have sought help from city officials to minimize disruption from so much construction. Others worry if the area’s older infrastructure like sewer and power systems will be able to keep up.

It’s an expensive place to live and run a business. Some old-school food wholesalers still hang on, but the atmosphere of West Loop has changed. Rising commercial rents has prompted some officials to push for affordable retail spaces in addition to city-mandated affordable housing.

The biggest changes in the West Loop are yet to come and we’ve mapped them all here. These are the buildings currently under construction and projects proposed for the area.

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