CRE N Illinois

State Street that great street? Chicago Loop Alliance and Site Design Group will release first plan for the retail corridor in over 30 years

State Street that great street? Chicago Loop Alliance and Site Design Group,ph1
Chicago’s famed State Street. Photo: Adam Alexander Photography for Chicago Loop Alliance

Chicago Loop Alliance is producing a State Street Corridor Plan, to be released in fall 2020. Urban design and architecture firm Site Design Group, Ltd. was selected from a competitive pool of applicants to create the plan, which will include recommendations on character, aesthetics and infrastructure; public space; transportation and mobility; connectivity; retail and business mix and technology—all with an emphasis on community engagement.

This is Chicago Loop Alliance’s first plan for State Street since 1987, when the organization called for the street to be reopened to automobile traffic after a stint as a bus and pedestrian mall.

“As we showed with our Economic Profile last year, everything about the Loop is changing rapidly—residential demographics, commercial real estate, mobility, etc.,” said Chicago Loop Alliance director of planning, Kalindi Parikh. “Chicago Loop Alliance is interested in being a leader in envisioning a new version of State Street. We see this street as a connector for all of Chicago’s neighborhoods. Our corridor plan will guide us in keeping the street competitive in a changing economic landscape, and in keeping it a ‘great street’ for all Chicagoans.”

Chicago Loop Alliance is the sole service provider for Special Service Area#1-2015, which includes property on both sides of State Street between Wacker Drive and Ida B. Wells Drive. In 1979, the State Street Council and the city of Chicago opened the “State Street Mall,” a pedestrian and bus mall that closed State Street to automobile and bicycle traffic. In 1987, the Greater State Street Council published “A Vision for the Future of Greater State Street,” which outlined a plan to reopen the street to traffic. In 1996, the renovation was completed, and State Street reopened with historic-looking infrastructure, including light poles, bus kiosks, signage, planters and more. That same year, Special Service Area #1 was reconstituted, and later the Greater State Street Council merged with the Central Michigan Avenue Association to form the Chicago Loop Alliance as the sole service provider for the SSA.

Chicago Loop Alliance previously worked with Site Design Group on Lightscape, a light and sound installation located in 17 planters along State Street that was installed in 2011. The firm is also known for projects around Chicago including the Argyle Shared Street, McCormick Square, Mary Bartelme Park, Chicago Riverwalk East, West Loop Design Guidelines and Printer’s Row Park.

“Given the history of State Street and its impact on Chicago, Site is honored and delighted to explore the possibilities of activation, mobility, excitement and community with Chicago Loop Alliance,” said Site Design Group co-founder and principal Ernie Wong. “The Site team is comprised of notable experts in retail and commerce, mobility, technology and Chicago-based artists, enthusiastically working with stakeholders and community members to develop a vision for State Street that embraces our times and culture. State Street is a symbol of Chicago, and Chicago’s neighborhoods define this city. We look forward to this exciting challenge and the outcomes of change.”

To kick off the State Street Corridor Plan process, Wong will deliver the keynote presentation at Chicago Loop Alliance’s 2020 Annual Meeting on February 20 atthe Palmer House Hilton. He will answer the question, “Why create a plan for State Street?” and explain how stakeholders can get involved with the planning process. The event will also feature remarks from Samir Mayekar, Chicago’s Deputy Mayor for Economic and Neighborhood Development.